The global automotive plastics revenue is expected to grow from US$21,617 million in 2012 to US$46,112 million by 2018 at an estimated CAGR of 13.4% from 2013 to 2018, as per a report by MarketsandMarkets. Automotive plastics are used in the manufacture of various automotive components such as: Bumpers, Seating, Upholstery, Instrument panel, Internal and External Trims.
Research on light weight plastic materials such as composite materials, reinforced plastics, and polymers have come up with improved material qualities that make them suitable for use in interior, exterior, and under bonnet components of automobiles. The careful selection of these automotive plastics is very important in the industry as it enables designers to improve durability, meet load bearing requirements, and achieve reduction in vehicle weight. In 2012, Asia-Pacific was leading in the automotive plastics consumption volume by 50.5%, followed by Europe (28%), North America (11.3%), and rest of the world (10.1%). Among these regions polypropylene leads consumption by 37%, followed by polyurethanes (PU) (17.3%), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) (12.3%), composites (11.5%), high density polyethylene (HDPE) (10.8%), polycarbonates (PC) (6.8%), and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) (4.4%), due to their easy forming properties and their availability at cheaper price than other materials. The automotive plastics are among one of the widely preferred alternatives for light-weighting of automobile as they offer enhanced properties such as superior impact strength, easy mold-ability, improved aesthetics, and reduced weight as compared to conventional automotive components such as High speed steel (HSS) and Aluminum. The increasing demand of passenger cars and the supply to fulfill the same in Asia-Pacific is one of the main drivers for increasing consumption of automotive plastics globally. The main drivers of automotive plastics utilization are their potential for reducing the weight of automobile and fuel consumption reduction potential by reduction in the weight of the vehicle. The market presents opportunities in new materials such as reinforced composites and PMMA.
As per another report by Transparency Market Research, plastics find major applications in electrical components and interior and exterior furnishings of automobiles. The majority of the application market for automotive plastics is under the purview of these two application segments accounting for almost 70% of the total consumption. Plastics are also used in other parts in automobiles such as power trains, under the hood and chassis. The market for these applications is expected to show growth over the forecast period. Polypropylene (PP) has been the most widely used plastic in automobiles in recent years and is expected to hold sway for the entirety of the forecast period till 2018. Polyurethane(PU), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyethylene (PE) are the other major plastic materials that have been in great demand in automobile manufacturing. Polycarbonate (PC), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polyamides (PA) such as nylons and other plastics including polyoxymethylene (POM) and polyethyleneterephthalate (PET) are also in great demand in various automotive applications. Biodegradable plastics are a more environment friendly option to plastics sourced from crude oil and derivatives. After a certain time period these plastics begin their degradation process and are easy to dispose without causing adverse effects on the environment. Starch based and polylactic acid (PLA) based biodegradable plastics have been the most common materials used in the automotive industry. Newer biodegradable plastics such as PHA, PCL and PBS are being used in small quantities for automotive applications. Biodegradable plastics have been analyzed separately as a potential opportunity, the estimates for these plastics have not been included in the overall market estimate and have been provided separately. Traditionally, although North America and Europe have been the biggest markets for plasticsin automobiles, Asia Pacific has been the largest consumer of automotive plastics in recent years. This can be attributed to the tremendous growth in the automotive industry in the region and the huge and apparent never-ending demand for automobiles in many economies of Asia Pacific. Europe has been the second largest market for automotive plastics followed by North America and Rest of the World (RoW).