The United Kingdom automotive carbon fiber market is expected to register a CAGR of close to 11%, during the forecast period, 2020 - 2025.
Carbon fiber is a light-weight material and has high-strength characteristics that can be designed for enhanced performance in automotive applications. They offer improvement in structural, functional, or cosmetic properties. To make vehicles lighter, cleaner, safer, and more cost-effective, the leading carbon fiber suppliers are responding to the needs and expectations of the vehicle OEMs, system suppliers, and customers. Many car companies, such as BMW, Audi, GM, Honda, and Polestar have established agreements with carbon fiber material producers for mass production, and are investing in their processes to support low-cost carbon fiber manufacturing.
Among applications, the exterior segment is expected to lead the market of automotive carbon fiber in terms of value and volume. The growth of this segment of the market can be attributed to the increased demand from manufacturers to produce several exterior parts, such as fenders, hoods, bumper beams, and deck lids of vehicles. Adopting carbon fiber increases the durability of vehicles, thereby ensuring a long life cycle of the parts and vehicle. The exterior parts of vehicles manufactured from composites also offer high stiffness, thereby, resulting in minimum damage to occupants in case of accidents.
Key Market Trends
Increasing Adoption of Carbon Fiber in Automobiles to Achieve Greater Fuel Efficiency
Although automobiles have been around for more than a century, the material they are made of has mostly remained the same. It only since the past few decades that advanced materials ranging from aluminum and magnesium alloys to carbon fiber have made their way into mass-produced cars. Advanced materials such as carbon fiber are essential for boosting the fuel economy of modern cars all the while maintaining performance and safety. Since it takes lesser energy to accelerate a lighter object than a heavier one, lightweight materials offer great potential for increasing vehicle efficiency and fuel economy. A 10% reduction in the vehicle’s weight can transpire to a 6% to 8% increase in fuel economy.
BMW’s use of carbon fiber in its i3 model has considerably reduced the car’s weight. The company sells around 31,000 units of the i3 model in a year. BMW and its carbon fiber producing partner the SGL Group, have spent close to USD 1 billion in establishing the supply chain for the CFRP used in the i3 and i8. Audi is also using carbon fiber to produce the rear wall of the space-frame for its A8 sedan. Even from the supply side, carbon fiber manufacturers have been ramping up their production capacities, which will further help in the adoption of carbon fiber in automobiles.
Healthy growth-rate anticipated for the UK market
With the enactment of stringent emission norms and fuel economy standards in the European region, automobile manufacturers in UK such as BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, etc. have started using carbon fiber composites in the manufacturing of their vehicles.
Companies are trying to invent new parts made of carbon fiber that can reduce the total weight of the vehicle to a great extent. The application of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) has been widely adopted for the production of automotive bodies, particularly in hyper-car manufacturers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche.
The demand for carbon fiber is expected to increase during the forecast period, as companies are forming new partnerships and launching new carbon fiber technologies for the manufacturing of automotive components, in turn aiding in driving the growth of automotive carbon fiber in the European market. Faurecia, one of the world’s largest automotive part manufacturers, announced that it was joining the leading cluster MAI Carbon of the Incorporated Society of Carbon Composites, based at the Augsburg Innovation Park, Germany, to develop manufacturing processes capable of reaching automotive cycle times for the mass production of carbon fiber and composite parts.
The UK automotive carbon fiber market is consolidated. The top 10 players account for most of the market share. The major companies in the carbon fiber market include Hexcel Corporation, Mitsubishi Chemical Carbon Fiber and Composites Inc., SGL Carbon SE, Teijin Limited, and Toray Industries Inc. Toray is expected to be the market leader since its acquisition of Zoltek in 2014.
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