The automotive industry has fervently been ushering in a new era by targeting the five key areas: Lightweight Design, Digitization, Connectivity, Autonomous, and Alternative Powertrains. Stringent regulations regarding fuel efficiency enhancements and carbon emission reductions, such as CAFÉ Standards and EU Directives on Carbon Emissions Reduction Target, imposed by several governments, are set to upheaval in the current material mix in the automotive industry. All the major automakers are meticulously investing in those technologies which can address changing business requirements in the most cost-effective manner. Composite materials have earned an unheralded reputation in addressing most of the current and future business requirements.
The usage of composite materials in the automotive industry is broadly bifurcated into four areas: Under-the-Hood, Exterior, Interior, and Others. Automotive exterior is one of the hotbeds of the composites industry as it is gaining the sheer interest of many global players. Exterior currently is the second-largest application segment in the automotive composites market after the under-the-hood segment and accounts for more than one-fourth of the total market. However, the application segment is likely to witness a higher growth than the under-the-hood segment in the foreseen future.
The automotive exterior composites market is likely to grow at a healthy rate over the next five years to reach US$ 11,928.1 million in 2024. There are several factors that are bolstering the demand for composites in automotive exterior applications. Some of the major ones are a higher strength-to-weight ratio of composite parts, excellent surface finish, excellent corrosion and abrasion resistance, and durability. The combined effects of the above-mentioned factors render multi-edge benefits to the automakers as these factors not only assist automakers to meet the stringent regulations regarding fuel efficiency enhancements and carbon emission reductions but also provides more durable parts with the benefit for low-maintenance cost. It is anticipated that there would be an incessant replacement of metallic parts with the composite ones, especially in exterior applications, in the foreseen future.
Insights based on vehicle type :-
The market is segmented based on the vehicle type as Passenger Car, LCV (Light Commercial Vehicle) and M&HCV (Medium- and Heavy-Duty Commercial Vehicle). Passenger car is expected to remain the growth engine of the global automotive exterior composites market during the forecast period from 2019 to 2024. Increasing production of passenger cars coupled with increasing penetration of composite parts in passenger car models is likely to elevate the demand for exterior composites in the passenger car segment.
Insights based on application type:-
Today, composites are found in all the major exterior applications including bumper, front-end module, fenders, door & Roof, liftgate, active grille shutter, runner boards, headlamps, decklid, and hood. Bumper, front-end module, and fender are the most dominant applications, whereas AGS and liftgate are the fastest-growing applications as there has been an incessant increase in the penetration of composites in these applications.
Insights based on resin type:-
Based on the resin type, the market is segmented as polyester composites, polyamide composites, polypropylene composites, epoxy composites, and others. Polyester composite is expected to remain the largest segment of the market over the next five years, whereas epoxy composite is expected to witness the highest growth during the same period. Polyester is considered the perennial choice of resin for making exterior composite parts as the resin offers the required properties including the class-a surface finish at a relatively low cost. Also, the resin system can be processed in high-volume processes like compression molding process.
Insights based on fiber type:-
Based on the fiber type, the market is segmented as carbon fiber composites and glass fiber composites. Glass fiber composite is expected to remain the most dominant segment of the market during the forecast period, whereas carbon fiber composite is expected to witness the highest growth during the same period. Glass fiber offers a series of advantages including lower cost, good mechanical properties, excellent corrosion resistance, excellent surface finish, and durability. Carbon fiber offers the additional advantage of higher strength and more lightweight but at a very high cost.
Insights based on process type :-
Based on the process type, the market is segmented as compression molding, injection molding, resin infusion, and others. Compression molding is expected to remain the most dominant process in the market during the same period, whereas resin infusion is expected to witness the highest growth during the same period. Injection molding also holds a considerable share in the market, driven by applications, such as active grille shutter and headlamp reflector.
Insights based on region:-
Based on the regions, North America is expected to remain the largest automotive exterior composites market during the forecast period. High penetration of composites coupled with healthy automotive production, especially in the USA and Mexico is chiefly driving the regional market. The USA is likely to maintain its dominance in the region during the forecast period, whereas Mexico will continue to register healthy growth in the same period, driven by its good policies attracting automakers to invest in the region.
Asia-Pacific is forecasted to witness the highest growth during the forecast period, driven by China, Japan, South Korea, and India. Despite weakening economic growth of China, the country is projected to remain one of the most attractive markets in the world in the coming five years. India, a relatively small market, is projected to witness monstrous growth in the coming five years backed by several government initiatives with an aim to boost the manufacturing sector.
Europe is expected to remain the second largest market in the coming five years, driven by Germany and France. Some Eastern countries are also likely to exhibit excellent growth in the coming years as these countries are drawing world’s interest by catching investment from global automakers.
The supply chain of this market comprises composite material suppliers, composite part manufacturers, automotive tier players, automotive OEMs, dealers, and Users. The key material suppliers for automotive exterior composites are Huntsman Corporation, Ashland Performance Materials, Celanese Corporation, and LyondellBasell, AOC Resins LLC, Owens Corning, and Reichhold. Some of the key composite part fabricators include Magna International, Plastic Omnium, Samvardhana Motherson Group, Denso Corporation, Rochling Group, and Valeo Group. The development of low-cost and high-performance composites components and forming strategic alliances with the automakers are the key strategies adopted by the key players to gain a competitive edge in the market.
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