The automotive industry is among the world’s largest, generating revenues of nearly 900€ Bn in 2010 through the sale of 55-60 M vehicles. The industry can be characterised according to four different price segments: luxury, high-end, mid-range and entry-level. Whilst luxury and high-end are global segments, characterised by production in the country of origin for worldwide export, mid-range and entry-level are segmented by region, with local production serving local specificities in design and branding.
In recent years the industry has been driven by strong production growth in emerging markets, in China especially.
Composites have a long history in the automotive sector and have been used as a material for non-structural car parts (such as the hardtop) since the 1950s. Since the 1970/80s it has been increasingly common for car interiors to be produced from thermoplastics and semi-structural parts such as the bumper beam to be produced from thermoset composites.
Their inherent performance characteristics (design flexibility and ease of shaping, levity, resistance…) mean that composites are one of the most attractive materials for many car parts even despite having higher raw material and process costs than steel or aluminium.
This report will give a complete overview of the structure and dynamics of the automotive sector before getting in the details of composites in the automotive sector.
Success stories will then be discussed as examples of the increasing penetration growth of composites in the industry.