Transportation Composites Market

2020 Analysis and Review: Transportation Composites Market by Resin – Thermoset, Thermoplastic for 2020-2030

Transportation Composites Market Outlook and Key Findings

  • Adoption of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CRFP) to accelerate in the future
  • Thermoplastic composites to gain traction, given their recyclability, and cost-effective attributes
  • Market to see reduced demand as COVID-19 crisis hits automotive production and sales
  • East Asian countries to remain epicenter of growth prospects through 2030

Transportation Composites Market Analysis – High Strength at Low Weight Remains Key Focus Area

The transportation composites market is witnessing disruptive developments, and new players entering the marketplace with innovative solutions are triggering changes in value chain.

With lightweight sector indisputably and inseparably linked to the market, these step-change developments are affecting end users keeping lightweight at the center.

Case in point, BMW is shifting towards composites for their models – BMW M4, BMW M3, BMW i3, and BMW i8 for emission reduction, weight cutting, and better efficiency.

The automotive industry continues to be under the pump is under constant pressure to curb its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In an effort to meet decarbonization targets, automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and their value chain partners are following two distinct strategies – leveraging alternative energy sources with lower ecological impact and enhancing fuel efficiency of automobiles. Both benefit from mass reduction of vehicles, thus, spurring the demand for transportation composites.

Transportation Composites Market Trends – Thermoplastics to Outsell Thermosets

Thermoset or thermosetting composites exhibit immense sturdiness owing to cross-linking and are highly suitable for application in high-temperature conditions. These composites find their usage in several end-use sectors including, infrastructure, construction, robotics, and biomedical.

However, FMI finds that adoption of thermoset transportation composites is likely to wane over years ahead, as manufacturers seek recyclable substrates amid stringent regulatory climate.

Thermoplastic composites, on the other hand, are cost-effective, non-toxic, and recyclable for various processes, yet showcase increased strength.

Wide range of thermoplastic resins is utilized in transportation composites including, PET, polypropylene (PP), and PVC, given their better impact resistance and ability to retain their shape compared to thermosetting resins.

Although thermoplastics stiffen when cooled, they can restore their plasticity. They can reshape and re-melt by reheating above processing temperatures.

Thermoplastic composites possess greater recycling and damage tolerance owing to tough nature of matrix material. As such, they find immense use in various industries such as construction, automotive, aerospace, and material handling.

Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic – The Lightweight Solution of Future

Carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CRFP) is one of the most promising lightweight materials available for body structures. The material is twice as sturdy and 30% lighter compared to glass fiber.

CRFP has been used in racing cars as it reduces overall weight of vehicles, as well as its high strength and rigidity for monocoque frames ensure drivers’ safety. Moreover, CRFP is a critical component in F1 racing cars for all structural components as it provides impact resistance.

CRFP help reduce mass of various assemblies and components can be reduced by about 50-75% in automobiles, thus, enhancing fuel usage and CO2 performance, or substantially expanding driving range of battery-driven electric vehicles (EV).

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) have teamed up each other to create and authenticate technology that will decrease the cost of developing high-quality CFRP by about 25% to develop composite hydrogen or natural gas fuel storage tanks to drive trucks and cars.

Fuel storage tanks add considerably to vehicles’ cost, hindering the adoption of these clean fuels in transportation operations in the US. The National Network for

Manufacturing Innovation, through IACMI’s investment, has dedicated one of their tech domains on compressed gas storage (CGS) tanks, gaining ground in advances of methods and materials that result in at-scale deployment of technology in potential applications.

Transportation Composites Market Regional Analysis – East Asia to Remain Ground Zero of Value-creation Opportunities

East Asia continues to lead the global transportation composites market, with China leading glass fiber production – 60% of global output. However, the market has witnessed a downward trend in recent past due to introduction of stringent environmental and industrial regulations.

Players in the East Asia transportation composites market are striving to achieve market competitiveness through innovations. For instance, conventional lay-up manufacturing has been slowly phased out in China. Moreover, automation is expected to make marketplace more competitive in East Asia.

Overall, the transportation composites market in East Asia will increasingly rely on tech-driven innovations and improvements in product quality, instead of cost-effective labor, resources, and expanding production capacity.

The transportation composites market is enjoying staggering growth in North America, yet the market is subject to possible headwinds in automotive use cases.

 Key growth inhibitors will be declining sales of light commercial vehicles (LCV) worldwide and relaxation of fuel economy norms in the US. That said, growth opportunities will persist as OEMs continue to decrease vehicle weight on worldwide vehicle platforms.

In addition, mass reduction is vital to expand the assortment of EVs, and the pursuit of lightweight materials will remain intact for this small, yet growing category.

Rising interest in transportation composites for reduction of automobile weight will continue despite the US proposing hold on fuel economy regulations.

Europe’s transportation composites market is expected to remain steady through 2030. Glass fiber material remains the material of choice for reinforcement in over 95% of overall volume of composites.

Production of transportation composites in Europe has grown at relatively slower rate compared to Asia and North America over recent past.

This is primarily due to migration of various production methods, as well as outsourcing of manufacturing of commodities with narrowing margins.

Furthermore, certain end-use industries such as automotive are flourishing more dynamically in other regions across the world compared to Europe. This is further affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; automotive demand in the UK dropped by about 95% in April 2020.

Transportation Composites Market Players – Stakeholders to Rely on M&As and Capacity Expansions

The transportation composites market is moderately competitive, with tier-2 and tier-3 players accounting for about 60-65% share of overall market revenue.

Several initiatives such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and capacity expansions to manufacture lightweight and cost-effective transportation composites will remain critical to the success story of market players in the competitive and evolving landscape.

  • Kordsa – subsidiary of Sabanci Holding – has acquired Axiom Materials in a bid to strengthen its capabilities to produce new products
  • Toray Inductries Inc. has announced to expand the manufacturing capability of its subsidiary, Zoltek Companies Inc., to 15, 000 tons – by almost 50%
  • Solvay has established tow innovation centers specifically for thermoplastic composites in Europe and the US, strengthening its research and development (R&D) capabilities and engagement with customers, in high-quality materials for automotive, aerospace, and oil & gas industries.

High manufacturing and processing costs of transportation composites are creating significant challenges for profitability of market players across the world.

Apart from high production expenses, initial capital investment is also expected to hamper market growth in the coming years.

Players including, Owens Corning, Toray Industries, and Teijin Ltd. are integrated throughout the value chain of transportation composites in manufacturing and distribution activities and have also broadened their product offerings.

Transportation Composites Market Future Outlook - Making a Grand Entrance in Agricultural Sector

While transportation composites have been serving the automotive, and aerospace industries, they are gradually making forays in modern agriculture. Their ability to deliver efficiencies in agricultural techniques has made them a preferable choice for meeting the requirements of farmers.

Agricultural equipment such as tractors, harvesters, and threshers have to sustain rising demands compared to nearly any other sort of machinery. These agricultural vehicles are subject to extreme conditions every year.

Seeking solutions, farming machinery manufacturers are resorting to transportation composites with dimensional stability including, sheet molding compound (SMC), bulk molding compound (BMC), and Structural Thermoset Composites (STC®) for novel product designs.

Certain critical components reaping these benefits include snow plow hitches, trailer parts, and sprinkler hitches. Transportation composites help extend the service life of farming equipment, and thus provide durability and money saved, for overall efficiency and dependability.

Key Segment

Material Type

  • Glass Fiber
  • Natural Fiber
  • Carbon Fiber Composite
  • Aramid Fiber

Resin

  • Thermoset
  • Thermoplastic

Application

  • Interior
  • Exterior
  • Underbody
  • Chassis
  • Powertrain
  • Engine Components

Vehicle Type

  • Passenger Cars
    • Compact
    • Mid-size
    • Luxury
    • SUV
  • Commercial Vehicles
    • LCV
    • HCV
      • Straight Trucks
      • Dump Trucks/Garbage Trucks
      • Semi-trailers
      • Fire Trucks
      • Others (Buses)
  • Agriculture
    • Tractors
    • Tillers
    • Rotavators
    • Harvesters
  • Threshers

Region

  • North America
  • Latin America
  • Europe
  • East Asia
  • South Asia & Pacific
  • MEA

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