Plastics Used in the Automotive Industry
In terms of cost advantage, fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions; the industry manufacturers use metal and plastics in a balanced manner. However, with the new developments in plastics technology, plastics in the near future will tip the balance in this sector just as in many industries.
Light Vehicles, Low Cost, High Efficiency for the Environment
In the automotive industry, the material choice for the parameters providing light weight such as engine downsizing, turbocharging is becoming important in accordance with the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions regulations. Fuel economy is also related to the vehicle's power transfer organs.
For example; 5-7% fuel savings are achieved due to a 10% reduction in the vehicle weight and the reduction of the powertrain. If no changes are made to the powertrain, this rate is hovering between 3 and 4%. The sanctions to excessive emissions from vehicles lead to the use of each material as "a design variable" by manufacturers to reduce vehicle weight without compromising safety and performance. The PP (polypropylene), PUR (polyurethane) and polyamide which are the plastics widely used in the automotive industry are among the options preferred for lightweight designs. Plastics compete with the other groups of materials used in almost any combination of a vehicle, which is a factor in the healthy growth of the industry's plastics demand.
Contribution of Plastic Materials in the Automotive Sector
The features inherent in plastics offer significant advantages for the automotive industry. These features include light weight, lower processing costs for high volumes and the manufacturing opportunity as a single complex component which eliminates the need for mechanical fastener. The plastic content of a typical vehicle constitutes 8% of the weight of the vehicle. Although there are regional differences in the use of plastics, Europe leads the use with 11%.
Plastics in automotive manufacturing are being used mostly in automotive interiors with 48%, exteriors with 27% and under the hood with 14%, while the remaining amount of plastic is consumed in electrical and cable materials.
Plastics Used Under Hood
The plastics used under hood (PA6, PA66, PPS) present good margins and high penetration potential in various regions including especially Asia and Latin America.
The plastics in mature markets like North America and Europe take their place in the new interior and exterior applications.
The demand in the plastics which have common uses will increase in the automotive sector
The total weight of the plastic used in automotive production worldwide varies between 11% and 14% by geographic region; and rises by 3% - 4% every five years. The global automotive plastics consumption of 6.5 million tons in 2011 is estimated to achieve 9.8 million tonnes in 2016 and to have an average growth of 7% between the years 2011 and 2016.
Indeed, parts manufacturers and plastics manufacturers for Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) carry out important R & D works in order to develop sector-oriented high-performance, high-strength plastics and to find new application areas.
Turkey Automotive Market Analysis
According to the data in the first 6 months of 2012, increase is expected in production by 4.4%, in imports by 3.1%, in exports by 6.6% and in domestic sales by 1.9% by the end of 2012 compared to 2011 in the automotive industry. While 66% of vehicles produced in 2012 were exported, and 56% of the total domestic market demand is expected to be met through imports.
Vehicle production in Turkey remains at various levels every year depending on the economic cycle and the global crises. In the first 6 months of 2012, 283 thousand cars, 281 thousand commercial vehicles and 46 thousand tractors, in total, 592 thousand vehicles were produced; and the production compared to 2011 is estimated to increase by 4.4% at the end of 2012 if the same course occurs.
While the total retail sales of vehicles in the first 6 months of 2012 were 360 thousand, the retail sales at the end of 2012 compared to the year 2011 are estimated to be 935 thousand units by 2.6% increase.
The automotive factory sales in 2012 amounted to approximately 360 thousand pieces in the first six months of the year, and the factory sales at the end of the year 2012 are expected to reach 935 thousand with an increase of 2.6% as the continuation of the growing trend.
A total of 402 thousand vehicles including 222 thousand cars, 172 thousand commercial vehicles and 10 thousand tractors were exported in the first 6 months of 2012; and the exports are expected to remain at the level of 6.6% compared to in 2011 if the same trend continues by the end of 2012.
Market Analysis of Plastics Used in Turkish Automotive Industry
It is stated that the plastics produced in Turkey are mostly used in interior trimming in the Turkish Automotive Sector. According to the data of 6 months in 2012, 39 thousand tons of plastic were produced for interior trimming. The amount of plastics produced for the other parts of vehicles are respectively seats and buffer zones. The least amount of plastic production occurred in liquid tanks with 4 thousand tons.
When calculating the consumption of plastics in the automotive industry, the projected annual average growth rates in production (% CAGR: 4.4), imports (% CAGR: 3.1) and exports (% CAGR: 6.6) were taken as basis; the estimated figures for consumption of plastics in 2012 were revealed with this assumption.Most consumed plastic raw materials in Turkey Automotive Industry are respectively PP (polypropylene), PUR (polyurethane), PA (nylon) and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene).
The plastics raw material consumption of the automotive sector has occurred as 457 thousand tons in total with a share of 8.2% in the total plastic raw material sector. This rate in the first six months of 2012 was 223 thousand tons with 7.4%, and the consumption is estimated to be 414 thousand tons at the end of 2012 in case of a continuation of the same course.Among the plastic raw materials used in the automotive sector, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is the plastic material with the highest consumption in the automotive industry with a share of 38.3% in the total plastic sector in the first 6 months of 2012. PP (polypropylene) ranks second in the consumption with a share of 7.8%.
The automotive sector is a very competitive industry today. One difficulty of the industry is the need to meet the industry's demand for plastics every day. The expectations of the sector include market supply with more comfort, safety, fuel efficiency, style and lower prices, lower pollution levels at the end of lifetime and increased recycling potentials and so on. The use of plastics is gaining importance day by day in the cars that have continuous innovation at the forefront. The plastic designers and engineers in the coming decade have important responsibilities to increase the performance and innovation in the automotive sector.