Recently, Frost & Sullivan's research analysts said that the lightweight automotive materials market reached $38 billion in revenue in 2010, and it is estimated that this number is expected to reach $95.34 billion by 2017, driven by demand for environmental regulations.
Governments around the world have passed laws that stipulate reductions in fuel consumption and/or carbon emissions. Because the weight of the car has a direct impact on fuel efficiency, these laws have led the automotive industry to replace heavy materials in certain systems with lighter alternatives, which in turn has reduced the weight of the car. According to Frost & Sullivan, if the car's powertrain is also shrinking, the car's weight is reduced by 10%, and fuel savings of 5% to 7% (in MPG) can be achieved.
Sandeepan Mondal, senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said: "These laws also encourage automotive OEMs to seek innovative solutions to comply with legal requirements and remain profitable."
For example, the European Scrap Vehicle Directive forces automakers to minimize the waste they produce when the vehicle's useful life is about to end. On the one hand, the directive encourages the use of recyclable lightweight materials in passenger vehicles; on the other hand, it also hinders the market growth of thermoset materials and carbon composites.
While lightweight materials do reduce the overall weight and carbon footprint of a car, they also add to the cost of the car. The Frost & Sullivan report believes that OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers have suffered severely from the economic downturn, so they will be less likely to be keen on metals under such adverse economic conditions. The assembly business is transferred to an alternative material assembly.
According to Frost & Sullivan's assessment, the lightweight automotive metal materials market generated revenue of $20.698 billion in 2010 and production of 10.3 million metric tons. The company expects the automotive metal materials market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.4% and grow to $59.806 billion in 2017. Whether in terms of value or usage, aluminum has always maintained a leading position in the use of automotive metal materials.
Frost & Sullivan also pointed out that external and body-in-white components may witness more metal-to-metal replacement. Aluminum is still the material of choice for exterior panels, and for white body construction, advanced high-strength steel (AHSS) is expected to replace lower grade steel.
According to Frost & Sullivan's assessment, the automotive plastics market generated revenue of $17.705 billion in 2010 and production of 5.5 million metric tons. The entire automotive plastics market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.8% and grow to $35.536 billion in 2017. Whether in terms of value or dosage, polypropylene has always maintained a leading position in the use of automotive plastic materials.
Frost & Sullivan pointed out that components inside and under the hood may witness more plastic-to-plastic replacement. However, in view of the continuing trend to reduce the weight of cars, most plastics will be used to replace metal components. Among all lightweight materials, aluminum dominates both dosage and revenue; while polymers are increasingly due to their lower cost-to-performance ratio (depending on the size, shape and complexity of the components). More adoption. However, in structural components that require strong impact resistance, the adoption rate of plastics will be lower.
At present, government departments around the world are constantly improving fuel efficiency and carbon emission standards, but China is more concerned about energy saving and emission reduction than any other country. Chinese automotive OEMs are developing advanced materials and technologies to help reduce vehicle weight and meet emissions and fuel efficiency requirements.
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