The Road Ahead for the Automotive Plastics Market

Published On : Jul 28, 2014

Overview of automotive plastics market
The main reason that the automotive plastics market is flourishing is that the use of plastics has led to increased fuel efficiency, and noise and vehicular weight reduction. The thriving automotive industry has also fueled the growth of the automotive plastics market. Plastics are replacing other traditional materials such as steel to manufacture automotive parts. 
However, what poses as a challenge to the automotive plastics market is the fact that the cost of raw material required to produce automotive plastics is quite high and massive investments are needed to keep the industry running smoothly. Moreover, plastic is inherently a non degradable element and this is bound to hinder the growth.
The automotive industry is undergoing a revolution and the plastics industry has played a major role in its growth. Thermoplastics were already being used in automobiles since the 1950s, but the introduction of highly-advanced and superior-performance polymers to the automotive plastics market has dramatically impacted the segment. The main types of automotive plastics are Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), Polyurethane (PU), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene (PE), Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Polycarbonate (PC), Polyamide (PA), and Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).
The application of plastic constituents in the automotive industry has been increasing over the years due to its favorable characteristics such as good appearance, durability, light weight, corrosion resistance, flexibility, recyclability, scratch resistance, toughness, thermal stability, and resilience, and all this at low cost. This has positively affected the overall market. Different types of polymers are used in separate parts of an automobile, both interior and exterior. These include doors and windows, bumpers, trunk lids, headlights, mirrors, wheel covers, hoods, dashboard, and safety locks. 
Market segmentation of the Automotive Plastics Market
The entire market for automotive plastics can be divided into various segments based on product type, applications, biodegradable components and region.
By product type: The various product components of the automotive plastics industry are:
  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
  • Polyurethane (PU)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Polyamide (PA)
  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
  • Polyethylene (PE)
  • Others 
By application: Some of the most important automotive applications of within the automotive plastics market are: interior and exterior furnishings, power trains, under the hood, electrical components and chassis.
By biodegradable component: Automotive plastics contain a variety of biodegradable components and the automotive plastics market can be fragmented into different sections based on the component used. These are:
  • Starch based
  • Polycaprolactone (PCL) based
  • Polylacitic acid (PLA) based
  • Polybutylene succinate (PBS) based
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) based
By geography: The main regions that fall under the automotive plastics market are North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World.
Nearly 70% of the total automotive plastics consumption is dedicated to electrical parts and furnishings (interior and exterior) of automobiles, but the market for other parts such as the hood, chassis and power trains is expected to gain momentum by 2018. PP has been the most extensively used plastic component and is forecast to hold steady for the next few years at least. 
The other major materials that have a relatively huge market within the automotive plastics market are PU, ABS, PVC and PE. The demand for biodegradable plastics is rising owing to their environment friendly nature. Of these, starch-based and PLA-based plastics are most often used in the automotive industry and investors see great potential in this segment. While North America and Europe have been the largest markets so far, Asia-Pacific is the biggest consumer. The increasing population and consistent demand for automobiles in rising economies of Asia has resulted in tremendous growth of the automotive plastics market.
Global outlook
Trade analysts forecast that the value of the automotive plastics market will reach USD 32,985.4 million by 2018 and grow at substantially high CAGR in the forecast duration. The segments of electrical components and furnishings are essential to the automotive plastics market and are the main motivating factors. 
The key participants of the automotive plastics industry include The Dow Chemical Company, AkzoNobel N.V., BASF SE, Evonik Industries, Ascend Performance Materials, Delphi Automotive PLC, Johnson Control Inc., Solvay Plastics, Magna International Inc., and Momentive Performance Materials Inc.
The primary factors that drive the automotive plastics market are the increase in automotive demand worldwide, the potential for better designed vehicles, awareness regarding emission control and use of environment friendly material, emerging markets in Asia-Pacific region and the broadening range of plastics applications.