Fuel efficiency and low carbon emission regulations are playing a major role in raising global demand to incorporate lightweight composites and replace metal parts in automotive components. Furthermore, major Western economies have begun to witness increased consumer spending, particularly in the luxury and super-luxury car segments, the majority of which utilize carbon composite components.
Analysis from Frost & Sullivan (chemicals.frost.com), Supply Chain Analysis of the Automotive Carbon Fiber Composites Market finds that the market earned revenues of $14.70 million in 2010. This is likely to reach $95.50 million by 2017. Growth is expected to be rapid with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.6 percent.
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Reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from passenger vehicles is correlated with the overall weight reduction of the vehicle. This will help European original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) meet the low carbon emission regulations. The U.S. automakers will also able to achieve the set average fleet fuel efficiency target of 35.0 miles per gallon (mpg) to 39.0 mpg by 2016, in the wake of the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) legislation.
"However, the high costs of carbon fiber and existing production techniques results in higher manufacturing cycle times, which leads to low-volume production," notes Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Sandeepan Mondal. "Further, there are concerns over providing a waste disposal/recycling system for carbon composite parts, as well as substitution threats from glass-fiber-reinforced plastics." In addition, there is a lack of general engineering experience among OEMs that are reluctant to move away from the metal-based assembly lines, which they have already heavily invested in.
To reduce the overall system cost of automotive components, automotive carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP) suppliers should implement new fabrication techniques for CFRP parts such as resin transfer molding (RTM). This could also serve well to reduce the cycle times. Since these high-performance plastics and polymers are lightweight, they are also incorporated into the interiors and in under-the-hood parts, thus reducing the weight of the vehicle.
Carbon-epoxy composites are best suited for automotive applications, given their high tensile strength, fire-retardant properties, and high fatigue resistance. All of these advantages have created increasing awareness of CFRP among automotive OEMs with regard to crashworthiness, styling and parts consolidation.
"CFRPs provide a better alternative to metals and glass-reinforced plastics, as well as innovative fabrication methods should enable high-throughput production," said Mondal. "Hence, an optimum balance between cost and performance can be achieved, which will aid in compliance with fuel economy legislations worldwide."
Further, top-rung automotive companies are collaborating with carbon fiber suppliers to ensure long-term supply and rein in price fluctuations.
Technologically advanced manufacturing techniques, the decreasing prices of CFRPs due to high-volume production, and the increasing frequency of high-value joint development agreements between carbon fiber manufacturers and OEMS are positively influencing the demand for carbon fiber composites.
The widespread adoption of CFRPs in alternative vehicles such as electric/hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, and CO2 emission regulations mandated by the European and U.S. parliaments are also expected to drive the automotive carbon fiber composites market globally.
Supply Chain Analysis of the Automotive Carbon Fiber Composites Market is part of the Chemicals & Materials Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: Prevalent Substitution Trends within Materials and Chemicals in Automotive Lightweighting, European Markets for High Performance Polymers, Global Markets for Plastics in Passenger Vehicles, European Markets for Naturally-reinforced Plastic Composites, Automotive Light Weighting Mega Trend Effect on Chemicals and Materials Demand. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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Supply Chain Analysis of the Automotive Carbon Fiber Composites Market / N9CB-39