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Guillaume Crunelle's point of view on Automotive sector

News International-French

24 Sep 2018

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Guillaume Crunelle's point of view on Automotive sector

Guillaume Crunelle's point of view on Automotive sector

To introduce Deloitte’s work/study on the automotive industry and on composites, a brief survey of which you will discover in this issue, we approached Guillaume Crunelle, the Deloitte associate in charge of the automotive sector, to sound him out on the issue of composite penetration in the auto industry and obtain his recommendations.

JEC Composites Magazine: After this in-depth focus on the automotive industry and composite materials, what is your feeling on their status today?
Guillaume Crunelle: We feel that there is a huge gap between the technical and utilization prospects promised by the different composite materials, the proposed cases for use, and their actual utilization in the production of mass-market vehicles. Such an under-utilization can seem abnormal from a technical viewpoint, given the advantages commonly presented by these materials, particularly for weight reduction, but this is often flouted by the existing constraints as soon as the economic equation comes into it.

JCM: Can you summarize the most common opinions of OEMs?
G. C.: The first observation is that composite materials fall within an area of research and investigation that is universally recognized by all OEMs. We can now distinguish between two major trends of thought. The first one, which could be described as being linked to performance, seeks out the specific capabilities of these materials: the unique combination of weight, shapes and strength that it is currently impossible to attain otherwise, except in premium vehicles and high-performance sports cars. The second one more opportunistically speculates about the ways to integrate innovative solutions into more mainstream productions by compensating for a higher material cost, for example, with a simplified manufacturing process (one-piece production rather than assembling different parts).

JCM: Tier 1 suppliers are putting a lot into composites. What should be their roles in stimulating growth for composites?
G. C.: Because they provide solutions and stimulate new technologies for OEMs, composite materials are right in line with the new strategy adopted by Tier 1 suppliers. We are convinced that the industry is still far from exhausting all the advantages that composite can provide.

A very good example of the use of composites materials in automotive

A very good example of the use of composites materials in automotive

JCM: In your opinion, which advantages of composite materials should be promoted to decision-makers in the automotive sector?
G. C.: Our position is two-pronged: first, it is absolutely necessary to find solutions to drastically reduce the cost of composites. A one-to-twenty ratio with steel is unsustainable in any of the development scenarios we are considering. Once the price gap is partly narrowed, there are fantastic advantages to put forward besides weight, and I’m thinking in particular of the capability to create unique combinations with other metals, and of developing the specific acoustic-/vibration-reducing features.

JCM: You propose several development scenarios at the end of your work/study. What are the main challenges to be addressed in order to accelerate the growth of composites in the automotive sector?
G. C.: We built a model for the visualisation of the future that identifies three major avenues. In the “As is” world, the case for the use of composite materials stays the same, and the market for automotive composites increases at the same pace as that of the global market, or about 2% per year. In an improved scenario that we have called “Jump”, cases for use develop and make composite materials competitive to support the development of new, autonomous electric means of transport, for example. The third scenario, “Disrupt”, is more futuristic, and imagines the emergence of new production technologies that enable a cost/production ratio that favours composites and makes them easily substitutable for other materials, such as steel and aluminium. These three scenarios assume the emergence of a robust, well-organized composite supply chain to promote their large-scale utilization for all industry users.

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