The automotive industry is a dynamically growing market for plastics: In addition to the global stock of already more than 1.2 billion vehicles, more than 90 million units are added every year. There are many examples of applications for plastics in the automotive industry: door trim, headlights, switches and handles, seating components, dashboard, windows, and also less visible parts such as plug connectors, battery casings, oil pans, fuel pumps, filter casings, or cooling water tanks. Replacing metal, rubber, and glass by plastics can reduce weight - but performance remains the same or is even improved.
The market research company Ceresana analyzed this application area in particular: Global demand of the automotive industry for plastics amounts to more than 15 million tonnes per year. This new study by Ceresana registers all parts made of plastics that are produced by either suppliers or vehicle manufactures themselves and are used in road vehicles. The application in passenger cars as well as in trucks, transporters, and buses, both in new constructions and in spare parts is examined.
Ceresana has comprehensively analyzed the market for automotive plastics as a whole and the demand for individual types of plastics. The segments seats and upholstery, interior trim, dashboard, bumpers and lighting, exterior trim, under the hood and fuel system, electric and electronics, and others are differentiated. In 2015, the segment under the hood and fuel system was the most important application area with a demand of around 2.6 million tonnes of plastics. Demand for exterior trim is especially likely to grow further: at rates of presumably 4.5% per year.
The most commonly used plastic in automobiles is polypropylene (PP): This type accounts for about 28% of total demand. In the past eight years, demand for polypropylene in the automotive industry increased by, on average, 3.1% per year. About one third of the PP consumed in the production of vehicles is used by the segment bumpers and lighting. The polyethylene types HDPE, LDPE, and LLDPE are used in vehicles mainly under the hood and for fuel systems. This segment accounts for about 45% of demand with HDPE being the dominant product type. Demand for polyethylene amounts to almost 3 million tonnes which is slightly more than demand volume of polyurethane (PUR). Demand for PUR increased by 3.6% per year since 2007, especially for the segment seats and upholstery.
Global market for automotive plastics