Plastics are continuously replacing metal and glass in automobile applications in South Africa as they are light-weight, inexpensive, and can be blended and moulded for most applications. The integration of plastics has been instrumental in the automotive industry's ability to develop high performance vehicles with improved safety features and fuel economy.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (chemicals.frost.com), South African Market for Automotive Plastics, finds that the market earned revenues of $157.3 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach $207.7 million in 2016. The plastic types covered in this research service are polypropylene (PP), polyurethane (PU), polyamides (PA), acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and polycarbonate (PC).
"The most significant driver for automotive plastics is the cost-reduction implication as a result of using plastics instead of its more expensive metal and glass counterparts," notes Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials and Food Industry Analyst Dilshaad Booley. "Since consumer buying power is still low with the global economy emerging from the financial crisis, low-cost vehicles will ensure increased vehicle sales."
Structural reinforcements combine the functionalities of metal with weight reductions of plastics application, resulting in weight shedding of up to 50 per cent. Other safety features such as seat belts, air bags and air bag containers have also been developed. Safety features will continue to drive innovation in plastics applications, providing a sustained impetus for the inclusion of engineering plastics in the production of automotive vehicles.
However, the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009 has resulted in the automotive sector significantly reducing production. Despite the economy gradually stabilising, consumer buying power remains low, resulting in sluggish growth in the automotive sector and a consequent low demand for automotive plastics.
"Although the automobile industry is expected to suffer low demand as a result of decreased purchasing power in the short-term, the automobile production and innovation processes will drive demand through the long term," notes Booley.
Greater use of plastics in vehicles to substitute metals and glass is vital to reduce the manufacturing costs and subsequently the cost of the vehicle.
"The market drivers allow for easy entry with low capital costs," concludes Booley. "Manufacturers who keep abreast of the latest technological advancements and applications will be the suppliers of choice."
South African Market for Automotive Plastics is part of the Chemicals & Materials Growth Partnership Services programme, which also includes research in the following markets: South African Market for Commodity Plastics and South African Engineering Plastics Market. 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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South African Market for Automotive Plastics / M59C