Metal, glass replaced with plastics in automobile applications in South Africa

Metal and glass are being replaced with plastics that offer increased benefits in automobile applications in the South African market, as per a report by Frost & Sullivan. Plastics are lightweight, inexpensive and can be blended and moulded for most automobile applications, making them far superior to metal and glass. The integration of plastics has been instrumental in the automotive industry's ability to develop high performance vehicles with improved safety features and fuel economy. The most significant driver for automotive plastics is the cost-reduction implication as a result of using plastics instead of its more expensive metal and glass counterparts, notes the analyst of this research. Since consumer buying power is still low with the global economy emerging from the financial crisis, low-cost vehicles will ensure increased vehicle sales. Structural reinforcements combine the functionalities of metal with the weight reductions of plastics application, resulting in weight shedding of up to 50 per cent. Other safety features such as seat belts, air bags and air bag containers have also been developed. Safety features will continue to drive innovation in plastics applications, providing a sustained impetus for the inclusion of engineering plastics in the production of automotive vehicles. As a result of the economic crisis, production has dropped significantly in the automotive sector. Despite the economy gradually stabilising, consumer buying power remains low, resulting in sluggish growth in the automotive sector and a consequent low demand for automotive plastics. Although the automobile industry is expected to suffer low demand as a result of decreased purchasing power the short-term, the automobile production and innovation processes will drive demand through the long-term, notes the analyst. Greater use of plastics in vehicles to substitute metals and glass is vital to reduce the manufacturing costs and subsequently the cost of the vehicle. The market allows for easy entry with low capital costs. Manufacturers who keep abreast of the latest technological advancements and applications will be the suppliers of choice.
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