The global automotive plastics market is anticipated to show modest growth over the forecast period owing to increasing production of passenger vehicles and efforts by manufacturers to reduce the weight of these vehicles. Automotive Plastics offers safety and performance issues in modern cars, minivans, and SUVs. Automotive plastics are used in dashboards, bumpers seats, fuel systems, under-bonnet components, body panels, interior trim, exterior trim, electrical components, lighting, liquid reservoirs and upholstery. Their versatile applications in automobiles have made these polymers the most popular type of design material in this segment, thus fuelling market growth.
Automotive plastics possess many desirable characteristics including durability, strength, recyclability, and scratch and abrasion resistance that allow design, modeling, and incorporation of components made of these materials in automobiles. In modern vehicles, plastics constitute almost half of the total volume of the vehicle yet contribute to hardly 10% of the total weight making them lighter and improving fuel efficiency.
Stringent government guidelines regarding vehicular emissions in many countries are a driving factor for industry growth. These controls are leading manufacturers to embrace light-weight plastics as a substitute for conventional automotive metals namely steel and aluminum. In addition to reducing vehicular weight, these materials are used to diminish noise and vibrations and increase cabin insulation, as well as to improve interior quality and aesthetics by producing durable and comfortable interior components. These plastics have been adopted by the automotive industry in a huge way, from screw-on accessories used in fixtures to the costlier body parts, driving the demand for these materials. Modern automotive plastics have many broad applications including passenger convenience, passenger safety, and overall cost reduction, which will favor market growth over the next eight years. Furthermore, the development of durable and robust automotive plastics is expected to widen their applications and lead to increased usage in passenger vehicles.
Most conventional products are manufactured from petrochemicals, which are derived from crude oil. Hence, the high and volatile cost of raw materials required to produce these materials is expected to restrain market growth over the forecast period. Massive investments needed for infrastructure and process re-engineering will also pose a significant challenge to the growth of the global industry. In addition, the non-biodegradable nature of these materials is anticipated to act as a barrier to growth as it causes concerns related to recyclability.
Main products segments in the automotive plastics market include polypropylene, polyurethane, polyvinylchloride, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyamide, polycarbonate, polyethylene, and PMMA. Polypropylene (PP) is expected to be the largest product segment, as PP-based materials have replaced most engineering metals and plastics in the production of automotive parts to achieve cost savings and weight reductions. Polypropylene and polyethylene foams are extensively used for vibration dampening, thermal stability, and smooth contouring of components. Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) is expected to witness the fastest growth on account of its increasing use in light automotive covers, windows, glazing, and trims as an alternative to glass.
The global automotive plastics industry is classified on the basis of application into electrical components, power trains, interior & exterior, chassis, and under the hood equipment. Interior and exterior are expected to account for the largest market share on account of utilization of the main components including body panels, bumpers & fascia systems, steering wheels, and light panels. Transportation authorities worldwide have made it mandatory for airbags to be installed in passenger cars for the safety of the passengers, driving the demand for airbags. It will in turn fuel the plastics industry as they are increasingly being used in the manufacture of airbags on account of their superior features and light weight. These materials are increasingly being employed in the production of universal joint bolts and internal transmission parts for power train applications, leading to market expansion. Key industry participants are expected to continue the adoption of composites to manufacture internal transmissin
parts to reduces the wear and tear of these components, resulting in augmented demand.
Asia Pacific will maintain the largest market share over the forecast period owing to the growing automobile sector in Japan, India, South Korea, Thailand, and China. Growth will also be aided by the fact that this region is the largest producer and consumer of polypropylene, which is the primary product used in automobiles. Significant companies namely Ford and Volkswagen have established manufacturing plants in India, which has caused technology transfer and facilitated the development of the automotive component manufacturing industry. The Middle East and Africa is anticipated to show the fastest growth on account of increasing automobile sales in the region, especially Saudi Arabia.
The automotive plastics market is quite concentrated with the top companies accounting for a significant share. Prominent players operating in the market are AkzoNobel, SABIC, BASF, Momentive Specialty Chemicals, Bayer Material Science, Lear Corp., Quadrant AG, Borealis, Teijin Ltd., Johnson Controls, Evonik Industries and the Dow Chemical Co.
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