Sponsored By

Automotive Plastics Market Growth Fueled by CO2 Emission Reduction Requirements

The need to minimize CO2 emissions in the next three to five years will contribute to 5.3% growth in plastics-based lightweighting products, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Stephen Moore

August 3, 2022

4 Min Read
CO2 dial
Image courtesy of Alamy/Panther Media GmbH

Every kilogram stripped from a car’s weight reduces its CO2 emissions by approximately 20 kg during its operating life cycle. As OEMs strive to meet sustainability targets, lightweighting will play a key role, and that will drive growth in the automotive plastics sector, according to recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan. This market is likely to reach $45.07 billion by 2028 from $31.29 billion in 2021, an uptick of 5.3% CAGR, writes the business consultancy in “Global Automotive Plastics Growth Opportunities.”

“The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) involves swapping conventional under-the-hood components, such as engine and fuel, for battery packs and other components,” said Brian Balmer, Polymers & Composites Program Manager at Frost & Sullivan. “This is expected to upend the demand for conventional plastics in under-the-hood applications and drive the need for other plastics for new EV applications and components.”

OEMs will participate in recycling infrastructure

Balmer added: “As sustainability and decarbonization are gaining prominence in the global automotive sector, the industry will inflate demand for greener alternatives to minimize CO2 emissions in the next three to five years. Due to this, established OEMs will collaboratively advance recycling technologies or acquire recycling companies to ensure supply security.”

Frost & Sullivan makes the following recommendations:

  • Plastics producers offering polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and polyamide (PA) should materialize gains by collaborating with OEMs to develop and scale plastic-based components, especially battery housings.

  • Resin suppliers should partner with component manufacturers to develop recycled grades that ensure performance on a par with components made from virgin resin.

  • To enable autonomous vehicle technology, plastics producers should ensure zero-to-minimal signal interference and seamless signal transmission and receipt.

  • Polymer companies should create growth opportunities by developing hybrid or thermoplastic composites to create lighter components without significantly increasing costs.

Frost & Sullivan’s global automotive plastics market analysis assesses the current state and prospects for major plastic segments across key applications and powertrain types. The study quantifies the consumption of vital plastics in automotive applications, analyzing the impact of tightening sustainability regulations and evolving trends in the automotive industry to present market forecasts from 2022 to 2028.

Automotive plastics market analyzed by materials, applications, and geography

The study analyzes the global automotive plastics market based on material, application, powertrain, and region. It focuses on 10 key material segments — polypropylene, polyamide, ABS, polycarbonate, PVC, HDPE, polyurethane, thermoplastic elastomer, high-performance plastics, and other plastics comprising polyoxymethylene, polybutylene terephthalate, polyvinyl butyral, modified polyphenylene oxide, and polymethyl methacrylate. The consumption of each material is assessed across automotive applications — interior, exterior, powertrain, structural, and lighting and electrical and electronics — and two powertrain segments — electric and internal combustion engines. The study also provides an overview of regional consumption in the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.

The beleaguered automotive industry continues to grapple with supply constraints following its production plunge during the pandemic. The industry is expected to gradually recover over the forecast period to reach the coveted 100 million unit production mark by 2028. As environmental regulations become more stringent, the industry is pressured to reduce emissions and waste. Major OEMs have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 through key initiatives such as switching to electric powertrains, using sustainable materials, improving end-of-life material recycling, and making vehicles lighter.

Transition to EVs creates new demand for plastics

The transition to electric vehicles (EV) involves swapping conventional under-the-hood (UTH) components, such as engine, fuel, and exhaust systems, for battery packs, electric motors, and various associated components. EV developments are expected to upend the demand for conventional plastics in UTH applications and drive the need for other plastics for new EV applications and components. EV proliferation is anticipated to grow the electro-mobility pipeline (such as electric motors, coolant lines, and electric motor magnet wire insulation) of high-performance plastic manufacturers. The continued inclination toward sports utility vehicles will also contribute to incremental demand growth in automotive plastics over the forecast period. Future mobility advances create the need for value-added functional resin grades characterized by superior attributes and performance, such as flame retardancy; resistance to thermal, chemical, and electrical factors; and superior dielectric properties.

The pandemic, its ensuing challenges and disruptions, and the shift in consumer preferences have accelerated mega trends such as sustainability, digitization, 5G, and automotive electrification. The global automotive plastics market is set for robust growth as the automotive industry makes a post-pandemic recovery, driven by sustainability and vehicle electrification trends.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like