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European automotive industry’s demand for reinforced plastics on the rise

News International-French

25 Aug 2011

According to a recent study by Mavel, demand for reinforced plastics in European automotive industry is expected to grow by nearly 6% annually to 740,000 MT in 2010.

(Published on October-November 2006 – JEC Magazine #28)




Methodology of the survey


Traditionally, technical and prospective studies are carried out by asking market players their views on the development of their products. This type of analysis provides a certain amount of information but is generally biased, for several reasons. The interviewed companies only provide information that they have an interest in disclosing, and they present it in a form that highlights their own ideas. Moreover, they have a partial view of the market.


In order to provide industrial groups and organizations with more reliable and useful information, Mavel decided to add a very valuable source of information: the entire teardown of vehicles launched onto the market, thus providing accurate automotive benchmarking through its Autobench programme.


The methodology used in this study, therefore, consists in combining thorough knowledge of the state of the art (Mavel has dismantled 54 vehicles to date), identification and analysis of the key change factors, which will lead to a move towards new designs and the use of new materials, automotive statistics and forecast compiled in-house and finally the expertise of our senior consultants.


European automotive market


European production shows a much greater dynamism than USA and Japan. Three factors can explain this increase: the growing demand in Central Europe, the ongoing increase in European luxury cars exports, and the implantation of Japanese and Korean carmakers in Europe, which will decrease European imports.


Mavel’s Automotive Observatory expects 2.5% annual production growth up to 2010 for light vehicles (passenger cars and light utility vehicles), for example.



Plastics automotive market in Europe


Plastics are widely used in automotive applications because they provide many benefits, such as costeffectiveness, corrosion resistance, low density and great design flexibility.


The average plastics content per vehicle has grown from 90 kg in 1990 up to 150 kg in 2005.


According to our survey, this trend will continue up to 2010. The key change factors, which support this assumption, include the new safety and emission regulations from the EU, carmakers’ differentiation policy and the increasing demand for comfort from customers, while compromising high performance and low cost. Consequently, we forecast a 4% annual growth of plastics content per vehicle up to 2010.



Mavel specialises in highvalue- added information and analysis for the automotive industry design chain (carmakers, system suppliers and material producers). The company is a leader in benchmarking analysis through its Autobench and Bodybench programmes (design analysis for innovation and recycling through the complete dismantling of cars: whole vehicle and all the systems including body-in-white, databases).


Mavel supplies qualitative and quantitative information through its automotive observatory department (data and forecast concerning vehicles and engines, data analyses and trends) and provides prospective and strategic studies through its studies department (multiclient materials studies, singleclient customised studies).


The European automotive industry 2003-2010

  2003 2005 2010 2005/2003 2010/2003
Million vehicles 18.2 19.1 21.5 + 5% + 18%
Average plastics
content (kg/vehicle)
133 150 170 + 13% + 28%
European plastics
consumption (MT)
2,800,000 3,300,000 4,200,000 + 18% + 50%
Composite content
23.5 25.5 30 + 9% + 28%
European composite
consumption (MT)
490,000 560,000 740,000 + 14% + 50%

Source: Plastics in the European Automotive Industry: State of the art and Forecast 2006 - 2012, Mavel.




Plastics components are located throughout the vehicle because of their outstanding performance. Composites are increasingly used instead of traditional metal parts, especially in the front of the vehicle, to save weight. The development of long-fibre thermoplastics has accentuated this trend.



We have also assessed a 4% annual growth up to 2010 for the composites content per vehicle, and we have calculated European consumption of plastics and composites in automotive applications. The demand for reinforced plastics in the European automotive industry could reach 740,000 MT in 2010. This would mean 50% growth from 2003 to 2010.