The Japan automotive composites market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 10% during the forecasted period (2020 - 2025)
- Presently, composite materials, like thermoplastics and reinforced glass, have drawn the attention of carmakers, making them focus on sourcing better, tensile, and lighter components in the manufacture of automobile units.
- Factors such as increasing demand for lightweight material from the automotive industry and growing focus on fuel economy are expected to be major drivers for the market. However, high costs associated with carbon fiber composites, and glass fiber composites is hindering the growth of the market, as their usage in low-cost vehicles could drastically increase the prices of such vehicles.
- The low recyclability of composites is also a restraint for their penetration in entry-level passenger vehicles. However, collaborations of the OEMs with suppliers (due to rising demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, growing lightweight electrical vehicle segment, and major automobile giants, like BMW and Nissan, trying to replace their existing metal parts with composite fibers) imply the scope and booming opportunity that the market is anticipated to offer over the forecast period.
Key Market Trends
Growing Demand for Lightweight Materials
The automotive industry has been focusing on vehicle weight for decades as vehicle weight have direct impact on driving dynamics and fuel consumption. Due to the high cost of potential lightweight solutions and consumers’ limited willingness to pay for weight reduction in automotive, the use of costly lightweight materials has so far been limited.
As governments from around the world are implementing stringent emission regulations and even are planning to set even higher emissions standards in the coming years, the importance of lightweight materials will increase. In a typical automobile, the use of fibers is 50% by volume, while adding just 10% to the weight. As per the US Department of Energy (DOE), reducing the weight of vehicles by 10% yields an increase of 6-8% in fuel economy. As a result, companies have started using materials like carbon fiber and glass fiber composites to make vehicles lightweight and fuel-efficient. The usage of glass fiber composites aids in reducing vehicle by 25%.
Apart from carbon fiber, automobile manufacturers have been using glass fiber composites in the manufacturing of numerous automotive components. For instance, 2017 Mini Countryman features an interior panel carrier, uses high flow concentrate long glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene (LGFPP) material (STAMAX resin) from SABIC. The part is ~15% lighter in weight than if made from solid plastic. With the demand for lightweight vehicles increasing rapidly in developing economies, the market for carbon fiber composites is projected to grow at a fast pace during the forecast period.
Japan ranks second in the list of car exports. Japan has exported more than 4.8 million passenger and commercial vehicles in 2019. Stringent rules and regulations in regards with emissions play a huge role in North America and Europe, which has led to increase in usage of composites in the automobiles to reduce pollution. The passenger cars have the highest share in terms of usage of composite materials. The legislative bodies are issuing protocols to include certain percentage of composite material in the automobiles. Increase in fuel efficient and weight reduction is major driver which is forcing OEMs are investing into RandD of composite materials. With corporate average fuel economy requirements increasing and vehicle emission requirements getting strict in Japan and all over the world, this market is expected to grow during the forecasted period.
Rising cost of raw material cost to drive market
With the increase in the shortage of natural resources and costs, manufacturers are looking to produce low-cost products around the world. The Cost-effectiveness of the composite components is expected to propel the market towards growth during the forecasted period. Composite parts not only benefit businesses but also help in reducing raw material requirements, energy consumption, and increasing flexibility in prices. It also plays a role in achieving sustainability. Manufacturers are taking advantage of growing automobile. The higher standards (which are for controlling the emissions) are, in turn, dependent on the weight, combustion, and fuel efficiency of the vehicle and thus are difficult to achieve. Demand for customized cars is on the rise globally, with the younger population showing a keen interest in customizing their cars, as sports and racing cars. In the manufacture of racing cars and luxury sports cars, the thermoset composites have already been widely in use for many years.
Raising consumer confidence, improving quality, durability, and advancement of technology together, these factors are expected to drive the market for automobile composites toward exponential growth in the future.
The Japan automotive composite market is consolidated. Industry participants are expected to expect intensive competition owing to aggressive strategies, including acquisitions, pricing, merges, and new product development. Significant players in the market are hexcel Corporation, Mitsubishi Chemical Carbon Fiber and composite Inc, SGL carbon and Toray Industries Inc. Companies are trying to invent new composites that can reduce the total weight of the vehicle to much lower proportions. In Jan 2020, Toyota has introduced its all new natural fiber reinforced composite material which is going to be used in Toyota EV.
Not only BMW has adopted CFRP in a mixed-material approach, but its German competitor, Audi, is also using the material to produce the rear wall of the space frame for its A8 luxury sedan. This part provides around 40% of the vehicle’s overall torsional rigidity, making it a suitable candidate for manufacture with CFRP. The part is around 50% lighter in weight than its metallic predecessor.
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