Global Statistics Representing Automotive Plastics Market Scenario
The rapid adoption of electric road vehicles and the application of polymers in automobiles are transforming the global automotive sector. The electrification of vehicle fleet has been accelerating the demand for polymers since the last few years, with impetus from regulatory incentives, the development of inexpensive electric vehicles, and changing consumer perceptions. Despite the growing prevalence of EVs, vehicles powered by ICEs are expected to retain a prominent share of the global vehicle fleet. These vehicles are also observed to be adopting polymer alternatives to conventional materials on account of the focus on reducing vehicle weight as a means to enhance fuel efficiency.
Automotive plastics play a vital role in the automotive sector, particularly in the manufacturing of technologically advanced and cost-efficient products with high safety and performance for modern cars, minivans, SUVs, and MUVs. The growing preference for high-performance plastics over conventional metals and rubber is projected to propel the market growth. The superior properties of plastics, such as flexibility and versatility, drive innovation in terms of technology and design. Around 13 types of high-performance plastics are used in automotive hardware, wherein three types of plastics make up approximately 66% of the total high-performance plastics used in a car: polypropylene (32%), PVC (16%), and polyurethane (17%). Around 50% of all interior components of an automobile – including safety subsystem and door and seat assemblies – are made up of plastics.
The use of polymer matrix and carbon fiber composite reduces the overall weight of a vehicle by 25% to 75% - a key advantage which serves the goals of emission reduction and fuel conservation while supporting the additional weight of advanced safety equipment. Stringent regulations including Corporate Average Fuel Economy are also compelling automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to discover other methods to reduce vehicle weight and subsequently, improve efficiency.
In 2017, Chevrolet Bolt developed an ultra-thin innovative design. The design showcases how plastics help in reducing seatback thickness by 2 inches and mass by 6 to 8 pounds.
Polypropylene, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene are the noteworthy automotive plastics currently in use. The polypropylene segment holds the largest market share at present, followed by polyamide, owing to the low cost of polypropylene and its high mechanical performance, including resistance to different chemical solvents, bases and acids, and moldability. Additionally, polypropylene is used in automotive bumpers, cable insulation, chemical tanks, gas cans, and carpet fibers. The polyamide segment is also expected to witness considerable growth, owing to the high usage of this polymer in airbag containers, engine covers, and different electronic components in passenger cars.
The key applications of automotive plastics can be classified as interior, exterior, and under bonnet. The interior segment is expected to witness significant growth as around 50% of automotive interior parts are made of plastics, including door panels and instrumental panels, as plastics provide good surface finish, aesthetic appeal, and scratch resistance.
Geographically, the global automotive plastics has been studied across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.
Asia-Pacific is expected to witness significant growth in the automotive plastics market, owing to the high production of automobiles in the region. Economic development and changes in consumer spending are accelerating the sales of automobiles in APAC, which in turn is bolstering the procurement of plastics for automobile manufacturing. China alone manufactured over 27 million vehicles in 2018, while India witnessed around 0.8% year-on-year growth in automobile production in the same year, as per the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.
North America is expected to witness a considerable growth in the automotive plastics market during the forecasted period 2019-2026. The region’s stringent regulatory scenario is targeting a decline in automotive emission, spurring the adoption of high-performance plastics over conventional metals to reduce vehicle weight. For instance, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in U.S. are urging automotive OEMs to decrease automobile mass and, in turn, improve efficiency. Additionally, increasing iron and steel prices are also expected to foster the demand for plastics in automotive.
The regulatory scenario in Europe is at par with that in North America. Countries across the region are enforcing policies to curb vehicular emission. Under the European Minimum Energy Performance Standard (EU MEPS), all electric motors introduced across Europe must comply with the determined minimum efficiency levels. Such regulations are spurring acquisitions in the automotive plastics market space. For instance, in 2016, Metaplasm Group, a European auto supplier, acquired Key Plastics LLC, a developer and manufacturer of thermoplastic automotive components.
Latin America and the Middle East and Africa (LAMEA) region is expected witness steady growth, balanced by positive factors such as infrastructure development and deterrents such as limited availability of funds and low per capita income in Africa. Moreover, government regulations, incentives, and tax rebate are likely to fuel the adoptipon of electric vehicles and, in turn, drive the automotive plastic market in the coming years.
Some of the prominent players in the automotive plastics market are Magna International, Inc., Momentive Performance Materials, Inc., Covestro AG, Evonik Industries AG, Owens Corning; Quadrant AG; Royal DSM N.V., SABIC, The Dow Chemical Company; AkzoNobel N.V., BASF SE, Johnson Controls International PLC, Borealis AG, Hanwha Azdel, Inc., Grupo Antolin, Lear Corp., and Teijin Ltd.
Automotive Plastics Market Market Segmentation
By Product Type