Plastics and composites are reshaping car design, IHS report shows

Automotive plastics are here to stay, and IHS Automotive has the figures to prove it. In a recently released Report, IHS Automotive, a “global information company with world-class experts in the pivotal areas shaping today’s business landscape,” shares some enlightening (pun intended!) information on how plastics and composites are reshaping current and future car design. With a “new generation of materials” that not only reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel efficiency but also give designers more freedom to design beautiful cars, “the possibilities really are endless,” cites the report.

One thing the report is crystal clear on. Global automotive consumption of carbon fiber composites is increasing – and growth rates show no signs of slowing down any time soon. In 2013, automotive manufacturing used 3,400 metric tons of carbon fiber. According to the IHS Automotive report, this market will nearly triple in the years to come, with automotive manufacturing usage of carbon fiber projected to reach 9,800 metric tons by the year 2030.

Practically speaking, this makes sense. Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards and pollution emission objectives require automakers to increase miles per gallon in the coming years – and automobile lightweighting is one of the best ways to do this. Car “road loads” must be reduced by about 30% to meet these standards, estimates IHS Automotive, and with the 25-70% car body-weight reduction possible with the use of carbon fiber, the potential benefits are clear.

One thing, however, that may seem a little less clear is the path between 2013 and 2030 – the “what” and the “why” is known, but the question is “how?” To address this very important aspect of automotive plastics in future cars, The Plastics Division of The American Chemistry Council developed the Plastics and Polymer Composites Technology Roadmap for Automotive Markets, 2014. The Roadmap outlines a vision for the application of plastics and polymer composites in automobiles, and the business and technology strategies that can provide needed solutions for the automotive industry.

Beyond Weight Reduction: Plastics and Composites Reshape Car Design can be viewed here.

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