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Multi-billion appetite for automotive plastics

Plastics are used in an increasing amount in modern products and vehicles are no exception. Analysts at Market Research Future believe the global automotive plastics industry will be worth US$ 38.7 billion (EUR 38.5 billion) by 2030, growing at an annual average of 4.5%.

A heightened focus on reducing both weight and emissions will further boost the proportion of plastics found in modern cars from the current 10%.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), polyurethane (PU) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) are the preferred materials for components and parts. The use of carbon fibre has also increased over recent years and is predicted to ‘hinder’ the growth of traditional polymers.

Applications range from exterior (car body and bumper), under the bonnet parts, interior, drivetrain, powertrain, electronics and instruments panel. The use of plastics in interior furnishing, steering wheels, light displays, ABS composites, fascia systems and rear package shelves will surge at a ‘tremendous pace’ according to the analysts.

Currently, Asia Pacific has the highest revenue share in the car plastics sector because leading brands have shifted their manufacturing bases to the region. The top five countries are India, Thailand, China, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the EU is considering enforcing targets for recycled content, including plastics, for next generation vehicles. This in turn could change the way carmakers view the design process. Many are already exploring e-mobility to lessen the dependency on petroleum. Embracing recycled plastics would fit into the wider strategy.

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