An automotive composite is an amalgamation of two or more materials with different properties with superior performance. Automotive composites can be used in a vehicle’s body in a single layer or in multiple layers. One material between two other materials when added together forms a sandwich composite that can be used for building of the roof and inner coatings of the vehicle. The automotive composites find application in the production and refurbishing of vehicles such as cars, utility vehicles. They are used as inner coatings of buses, vehicles, trucks, and vehicle interiors.
At present, automotive interiors such as dashboards, steering wheels, door panel, seat covers, etc., generate maximum demand for composite materials. Among the various types of composites, natural fiber reinforced polymer (NFRP) has wide application in automotive interiors, including seat trims, gear knobs, and flooring. However, the carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) finds use in various luxury and sports cars for dashboards and other automotive interiors due to its enhanced strength-to-weight ratio and appearance. The market is characterized by the presence of a moderate number of players. On account of the prohibitively high upfront investment, however, it is difficult for aspiring players to foray into the market.
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One prominent growth driver in the global automotive composites market is the increasing pressure on automakers to bring down carbon emission. To that end, most are coming up with lightweight vehicles that guzzle less fuel. To manufacture such vehicles automotive composites are used which are almost 60% lighter than the traditional steel and iron, but have the same strength and stiffness. Automotive composites have other advantages too. They do not get corroded like steel and are unaffected by heat as well. They also lower the effect of an external impact on the vehicle. Overall, automotive composites provide enhanced properties while consuming less fuel. And this has resulted in their swift uptake.
A key trend in the global automotive composite market has been the steady growth of the carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) in the past couple of years mainly on the back of technological progress and new high value applications. Despite hindrances in the form of volatile raw material prices and environmental concerns, the market is forecasted to expand further in the near future. Prominent composite manufacturers are upping their production capacities and are also spending on their research facilities to come up with enhanced technologies in order to lower the cost of CFRP composites.
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Currently, North American dominates the automotive industry vis-à-vis growth and profitability on account of substantial automotive production. Its market has also been boosted by the increasing sales of light commercial vehicles. Going forward too, the North America market is predicted to see good growth, which will likely stoke demand for automotive composite materials.
Besides North America, Asia Pacific is predicted to be another key market in the near future in terms of contribution to revenue. China, which is one of the leading automobile manufacturers in the world and also a leading emitter of global greenhouse gases, is powering the Asia Pacific market along with Japan and Taiwan — which are two other highly polluted countries. Further, the upswing in the sales in passenger cars and commercial vehicles and policy support for green vehicles are also boosting the market in the region.