The global automotive polymer composites market size was valued at USD 6.40 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach USD 11.62 billion by 2025, expanding at an estimated CAGR of 6.8% over the forecast period. The market is characterized by the presence of large-scale automobile production and stringent regulations implemented in the automobile industry.
The auto industry is witnessing challenges in aligning their production or assembly processes with enhanced material properties and innovative product design, specifically for large-volume production facilities. Although aluminum and steel are more successful in reducing the weight of a vehicle, high-performance FRP composites can potentially outperform both aluminum and steel. High cost of reinforcing materials, high processing cost, costly recycling processes, and absence of mass production methods are some of the factors likely to restrain market growth.
Enhancing the end-of-life value of composites through optimum recycling is likely to prove beneficial in improving the overall Life-cycle Assessment (LCA) score of composites. The EU End-of-Life Vehicle Directive for cars stipulates mandatory use and recycling 85% of vehicle components, although energy recovery of polymers is not considered as recycling.
Rising demand for fuel-efficient vehicles and increasing production of lightweight automobile components are some of the factors anticipated to prompt manufacturers to opt for backward integration in the value chain. Greater participation across the value chain is expected to result in reduction of time required to transform raw materials into finished products, which, in turn, is likely to help in gaining cost advantage. Automotive composite manufacturers are expanding their production capacities and focusing on improving infrastructure to cater to growing market demand.
Polyamide, also known as nylon 6, exhibits superior resistance to abrasion and chemicals, which makes it a suitable material for applications requiring dimensional stability. Therefore, this resin type is used in gear and bushes. Polystyrene, despite being popular and easy to manufacture, exhibits poor resistance to UV light. Polyethylene is further categorized into Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE).
Polyurethane composites exhibit superior physical and mechanical properties such as lightweight, durability, flexibility, stability, and resistance to temperature and moisture. These factors are prompting automotive manufacturers to increase the adoption of such materials. Polyurethane composites are used in Structural RIM (SRIM) automotive exterior and interior parts such as inner door panels, roof modules, flaps, and lids.
Polypropylene composites are widely used in automotive components owing to low cost, chemical resistance, and UV stability. These are less costly in comparison to Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and Polycarbonate (PC). Due to UV stabilization, polypropylene composite parts do not require painting, which, in turn, reduces the cost of components by eliminating the painting process and improving recyclability of vehicle parts.
The automotive polymer composites market has recently witnessed the penetration of hybrid designs of carbon and glass fiber reinforced products. For exterior employment, product laminates, which contain 50% carbon-fiber reinforcement, exhibit optimum flexural properties, whereas alternating glass/carbon lay-up assembly offers high compressive strength.
Fiberglass is mainly used to reduce the weight of a vehicle. Moreover, high tensile strength gives it an edge over other metals. Fiberglass is used in external body parts and dashboards. A shift in trend toward replacement of conventional heavy-weight metals with lightweight fiberglass for the manufacturing of automobiles is expected to drive the market over the forecast period.
Key players are establishing themselves across the value chain from raw material production, manufacturing, and distribution to maintaining quality of raw material and gaining competitive advantage in terms of cost benefits with an increased profit margin. Technological advancements and research and development activities have become essential for companies to perform in the market owing to intense competition, rapid technological changes, and highly demanding customers.
Carbon fiber is expected to be the fastest-growing product owing to its strength and thickness. Carbon fibers are manufactured by aligning carbon atoms parallel to the long axis of the fiber. The process of aligning fiber axis with carbon atom requires special purpose material handling equipment and skilled labor. The inexpensive nature and unique strength of steel make it a suitable material. Crashworthiness is an important criterion in the selection of raw materials for use as automotive lightweight material.
Epoxy resin has been in use as a structural glue for over 30 years in the automotive sector, one that replaces the necessity for welding. It is widely preferred by auto manufacturers owing to properties such as mechanical strength, heat resistance, and adhesion to metals. These properties are helpful in keeping the car bodywork from corrosion and other damages. Epoxy resins are used as a coating for the car body, usually through Cathodic Electro Deposition (CED).
Polyurethanes are favored for achieving real-time benefits in terms of comfort, protection, and energy conservation. Durability, lightweight, and high strength make them an ideal material for use in interior cushioning as well as heat and noise insulation. Polyvinyl chloride has shown good resistance to chemical and solvent attacks. The vinyl content in polyvinyl chloride gives it good tensile strength, triggering its applications in automotive instrument panels, sheathing of electrical cables, pipes, and doors.
Advanced materials are yet to be widely recognized for their benefits such as light weight and superior corrosion resistance. At present, the industry is making investments to upgrade the process for molding polymer composites using various forms of conventional E-glass in mid-level performance resins, namely thermosets and thermoplastics.
Electric vehicles are a combination of modern automotive technologies and lightweight automotive components. Composites are major components used in the production of electrical vehicles. The electric vehicles segment has some special requirements such as lightweight crashworthiness along with Internet of Things (IoT).
Hybrid vehicles include the combination of two or more power sources. Switching power between two engine types reduces pollution and helps in saving fuel. Hybrid cars are generally more aerodynamic and lighter. The combustion engine in such vehicles is smaller in comparison to conventional vehicles. Hybrid vehicle manufacturers use lightweight materials to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency. They are used in many parts of hybrid vehicles such as hoods, fenders, decklids, battery modules, floor pans, trunk compartments, and bumper beams.
Massive investments by EU in projects such as Composite Structural Power Storage for Hybrid Vehicles (STORAGE) and introduction of several novel technologies are likely to benefit the industry. These technologies include improvement in the composition of multifunctional resin for supercapacitors, carbon aerogel reinforcements, and mixture of epoxy resins and liquid electrolytes for matrix development. These advancements are projected to drive the demand for automotive polymer composites in electric vehicles.
Compression molding is a high-volume and high-pressure process, which is usually suitable for molding complex and high-strength fiberglass reinforcements. Benefits of compression molding include capability to mold large and complex parts. The technique produces lesser knit lines and reduces fiber-length degradation in comparison to injection molding method.
Injection molding plastics is the fastest-growing manufacturing process segment in the automotive polymer composites market. The process involves manufacturing of molded products by injecting molten plastic materials into a mold and then solidifying them. Polyethylene, polypropylene, polyurethane, and others are the basic raw materials used in the production of automotive lightweight material.
Sheet Molding Compounds (SMC) or Sheet Molding Composites are both a process and reinforced composite material. They are a mixture of polyester resin and chopped glass strands in the form of a sheet. Compression or injection molding methods are used for the development of these compounds, which are further used to produce bodywork or structural automotive parts in large industrial volumes.
In 2016, Asia Pacific accounted for the largest market share in the automotive industry. Availability of low-cost raw materials, cheap labor, supportive government policies, and presence of many untapped markets in emerging economies are factors driving market growth. Steel is a major raw material used in automotive lightweight materials industry. China, India, and Japan are the world’s top three steel producers. Automobile companies are establishing production facilities in this region to gain a competitive advantage in terms of low production cost and proximity to end-use markets.
In North America, composites are widely used in automotive applications. Chevrolet and Ford are major users of CFRP within the region. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Ford Viper SRT, and Mustang Shelby GT500KR are models that account for maximum usage of CFRP in North America. These are supplied by Plasan Carbon Composites to OEMs. Viper, Corvette, and Mustang use 26.7 kg, 15.5 kg, and 2.9 kg of composites, respectively.
High purchasing power, better infrastructure, and high standard of living are some of the major advantages in the German economy. Population growth and rise in consumer income are anticipated to drive the overall demand for high-end products in Germany over the forecast period. The country accounted for approximately 28% of the total European automotive production in 2016. Increasing disposable income is boosting the purchasing power of consumers, thereby triggering demand for luxurious, comfortable, innovative, and environment-friendly products.
Growing population in the country has triggered the influx of new consumers, which helps the industry in expanding its operations and aids manufacturers in developing their consumer base by attracting new consumers with new offerings. Factors such as growth in consumer segment and development in automotive production are likely to boost the automotive polymer composites market.
Top suppliers such as Dow Automotive Systems, Bayer Corporation, and 3M are focusing on increasing their global footprint. Companies are expanding their production facilities in emerging economies, such as China and India, to cater to increasing demand in Asia Pacific.
Governments in various countries including Japan, U.S., Canada, China, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, and India have issued fuel economy or greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger vehicles and light commercial vehicles or light trucks. Established regulations in Europe and North America have propelled the demand for composites from automotive manufacturers in these regions. Proposed regulations in these countries are expected to further fuel demand over the next eight years.
In 2016, the automotive polymer composites industry witnessed the involvement of market participants in umpteen strategic development plans, such as acquisition of TenCate by Tennessee Acquisition B.V., Owens Corning’s facility expansion initiative in India, acquisition of GETRAG Group by Magna International, and introduction of Toho Tenax’s new integrated production system for CFRP.
Base year for estimation
Actual estimates/Historical data
2014 - 2016
2017 - 2025
Volume in Tons, revenue in USD Million, and CAGR from 2017 to 2025
North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, Central & South America
U.S. Canada, Mexico, Germany, U.K., France, Spain, Taiwan, China, India, Japan
Revenue forecast, company share, competitive landscape, growth factors, and trends
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This report forecasts revenue growth at a global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis on industry trends in each of the sub-segments from 2014 to 2025. For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global automotive polymer composites market report on the basis of resin, product, application, end use, manufacturing process, and region:
Resin Outlook (Volume, Tons; Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Composite Product Outlook (Volume, Tons; Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Application Outlook (Volume, Tons; Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
End-use Outlook (Volume, Tons; Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Trucks & Buses
Manufacturing Process Outlook (Volume, Tons; Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Resin Transfer Molding
Regional Outlook (Volume, Tons; Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Central & South America
Middle East & Africa
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