Opportunities for composites in the North American automotive market are promising. In 2012, the value of automotive composites shipments was more than $1,000 million, while the market for composite products such as interior headliners, fenders, pickup boxes, and door modules was more than $2,000 million.
The use of composites is steadily growing in applications that require fuel economy and other performance benefits. Opportunities for composites in the North America automotive market are expected to reach $2,648 million by 2018.
The European automotive composites market is expected to reach $2,270 million in 2018, almost doubling from 2012 levels. Initially driven by exterior applications, the use of composite materials has now spread to all areas of the vehicle, including interior and under-the-hood applications, which both represent good growth potential.
While somewhat more expensive than the competition, the use of composites is growing in applications where weight savings, fuel economy, and other performance benefits are critical. Nevertheless, high cost and lack of suitable manufacturing process for high-volume applications continue to be a limiting factor for consumption of composite materials in the European automotive industry. The high cost of material is also a limiting factor for developing new applications with high-performance materials such as carbon fiber composites.
The increased use and trust of composite materials is not without its challenges. The number one challenge of all OEMs is the importance of price. Cost pressures are everywhere, and the automotive composites market must be part of the solution if use of composites is to grow. Primary resin and fiber costs present the single greatest barrier to the use of composite materials in automotive applications. For base resin suppliers, the last five years brought mixed results, as they have had to contend with higher costs, in most cases by issuing their own price increases.
Global Aerospace Market
Composites in the global aerospace market are anticipated to grow to 101.8 million lbs, valued at $4.5 billion, in 2022. The main drivers for significant demand in composite materials in the aerospace industry include a huge order backlog and an increasing production rate for commercial aircraft, as well as high composites penetration.
Although composites usage varies between aircraft types, the trend going forward is greater use of composites in all aircraft. The Boeing 787 uses composites for roughly 50% of its total structural weight. Both the Airbus A380 and the 787 contain more than 100,000 lbs of composites per aircraft. Composites consumption in the commercial aerospace industry will be driven by three programs: Boeing 787, A350 XWB and A380.
The aerospace industry has a strong long-term demand for products and services, driven by robust passenger and cargo demand. Continued growth is predicted across all the sectors of civil aircraft. In terms of aircraft units, the majority of deliveries will be in the business jet and single-aisle mainline markets; however, in value terms, twin-aisle aircraft designed for use on longer-range routes dominate the market. The fastest-growing segments will be the 200- to 350-seat twin-aisle sector, large regional jets, and very light business jets.
Significant Growth Expected in China
China’s composites market is projected to grow significantly over the next five years, reaching an estimated $11.5 billion in 2018. While the economic crisis will affect the industry negatively in the near term, substantial long-term opportunities exist in China. Opportunities are expected to arise due to the trends in demand quantity and growth based on the various application markets. Although there are valid concerns due to global economic instability, the demand for composites products is anticipated to continue due to superior performance.
Major composites market segments such as construction, transportation, and electrical and electronics (E&E) experienced good growth in China in 2012. In terms of value of shipments, the largest consumer of composites shipment materials was the E&E sector, followed by the pipe and tank sector. Aerospace and defense, marine, and E&E are expected to maintain healthy growth during 2013-2018.