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Automotive Projections for Moulders

Plastics parts for automotive applications account today for approximately 12 percent of the car by weight, in some special cases up to 15 percent. In the near future, experts estimate a distinct increase of the plastics weight fraction, but slower than in the past.

However, some exciting new applications exist that can revolutionize car manufacturing and contribute to increasing growth for plastics applications. For example: The new Mercedes Smart Car will have an injection moulded car body (PC/PBT blend). Chrysler's new Composite Concept Vehicle also has injection moulded body panels of PET. GE Plastics and BASF are developing new concepts for body parts made of thermoplastics. The companies are joining forces to develop automotive glazing made of polycarbonate.

Globalization Is a Must for Suppliers

The globalization of the automotive industry forces the suppliers to invest strongly in the emerging markets, especially in Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe. As a result, the major suppliers of plastics components are gaining market share by taking over smaller competitors without sufficient financial strength. Moulders will have to decide whether to become Tier Two or Tier Three suppliers, or as Tier One suppliers, take responsibility for developing and supplying ready-to-assemble components at their customers' plant sites, the car manufacturers. A dramatic change is going on globally on the supplier side in upcoming years.

This change will create overcapacities in some areas. It will initiate investments that will not pay back in all cases. For the moulder it means long-term strategic decisions, distinctive investments, and a higher risk than in the past. Global diversification by following the investments of the car manufacturers, concentration on core activities, and strong R&D activities--even jointly with competitors if necessary--seems to be the key for future success.

New emerging markets, new technical developments, a new quality of cooperation, and a more important role for the supplier in the process of developing and manufacturing new cars make this an exciting time to be a supplier to car manufacturers. Injection moulding will certainly be the key technology, especially for cars built in large volumes (more than 100,000).
TAGS: Business
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