The Constantly Growing Automotive Plastics Industry

January 2023

Manufacturers and producers have made a variety of material implementations and improvements during the development of transportation vehicles to make these vehicles as efficient as possible for their users. Producers must evaluate the materials being utilized to construct the final product they are selling if they want these vehicles to operate at their highest efficiency. Nowadays, due to their lightweight and high fuel efficiency, plastics are the main material used in transportation vehicles. Plastics possess the qualities that keep automobiles safe, light, and pleasant for passengers while enabling manufacturers to improve the aesthetic appeal of their products. About one-third of the 30,000 parts that make up a typical automobile is comprised of plastic. Carburetors, fenders, dashboards, handles, engine covers, interior wall panels, seating, truck bed liners, cable insulation, and other components are made of plastic, creating huge scope for the automotive plastics industry.

As we all know, if plastics' end-of-life solution is mismanaged, it can harm our planet. PVC, one of the most frequently found polymers in transportation vehicles, is regrettably one of the most poisonous polymers. Around 12–17% of the plastics used in the typical car today are made of PVC. In other words, 12–17% of the plastic in cars can't be recycled and will probably contaminate the environment. PVC, Polyurethane (PU), and Polypropylene(PP) make up over 70% of the plastic components in modern autos. PVC is also not usually recyclable, but polyurethane and polypropylene can easily be recycled. Sometimes, these plastics are simply thrown away as waste instead of being removed from cars and recycled. Mixing hazardous chemicals with recyclable polymers is another frequent problem that might reduce their recyclability. As a result, not all of those recyclable polymers can be recycled as easily.

Fortunately, there are businesses that buy used cars, disassemble them, and recycle used plastic. In actuality, vehicles generate almost 25 million tonnes of materials (not only plastic) that are recycled annually, making them the most recycled consumer good in the world. Automobile manufacturers also employ recycled plastic for parts like air deflectors, splash guards, and wheel liners.

Never before has plastic played such a crucial part in the development and production of automobiles. More inexpensive, lightweight, and fuel-efficient automobiles are in demand as a result of strict laws and evolving consumer preferences. Due to the rising cost of gasoline and more stringent environmental restrictions, fuel efficiency has emerged as one of the most crucial factors in automotive vehicle design. This will continue to fuel demand for the automotive plastics industry, with strong demand for automobiles and rising disposable income in emerging economies. The need for polypropylene will increase as it finds new uses in automotive interiors and exteriors and replaces some metal components inside the engine. Increased EV production will also encourage growth because such vehicles will need lighter parts to help balance out the weight of their large batteries. In addition, as digitalization spread, there was a greater need for plastics to support extremely sophisticated electronics in car dashboards. Plastics are now more frequently used in instrument panels that house sophisticated electronic systems due to safety concerns and their strong electrical insulation capabilities.

Asia-Pacific dominated the automotive plastics industry at the worldwide level, with a revenue share of more than 45.0% in 2021. Production centers will likely move from established nations to growing economies in Asia-Pacific, particularly in China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. A new era of autos is anticipated, which will favor the market for automotive plastics. This will be brought about by expanding the manufacturing base and rising investments in cutting-edge technology for vehicle production.

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