Elastomers are materials which are made of polymers that are joined by chemical bonds, acquiring a final slightly cross-linked structure. Elastomers are any rubbery material composed of long chainlike molecules, or polymers, that are capable of recovering their original shape after being stretched to great extents—hence the name elastomer has been derived from “elastic polymer.” Automotive elastomers are the elastomers used for manufacturing different automotive parts. The global automotive elastomers market is expected to witness considerable growth due to the increasing demand for high efficiency vehicles and growing automotive industry.
GLOBAL AUTOMOTIVE ELASTOMERS MARKET SPLIT BASED ON VOLUME, BY TYPE (2015)
Under normal conditions, the long molecules making up an elastomeric material are irregularly coiled; however, with the application of force, the molecules straighten out in the direction in which they are being pulled. Upon release, the molecules spontaneously return to their normal compact and random arrangement. Elastomer rubber compounds are made from five to ten ingredients, each ingredient playing a specific role. Polymer is the main component and determines heat and chemical resistance as well as low-temperature performance. Elastomers are integrated with reinforcing filler (carbon black) for strength properties and plasticizer for improving low-temperature properties. Other ingredients include anti-oxidants, release package, scorch retarder, curative and an accelerator.
In terms of value, thermoplastic automotive elastomers, which include styrene block co-polymer (SBC), thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU), thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPV), co-polyester ether (COPE), and polyether block amide (PEBA), held larger share than synthetic automotive elastomers in the global automotive elastomers market in 2015. In terms of volume, synthetic automotive elastomers, which include styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR), silicone rubber, chloroprene rubber (CR) and fluoroelastomers held larger share than thermoplastic automotive elastomers in the global automotive elastomers market in 2015. Synthetic elastomers are artificially-manufactured polymers that are synthesized from petroleum by-products. Synthetic automotive elastomers are capable of handling high and low temperatures, bearing contact with fluids of various types (including at high pressures), and aggressive or corrosive environments.
The global automotive elastomers market was valued at $10,015.2 million in 2015, and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.9% during the forecast period (2016 – 2022). High emphasis on lightweight materials, stringent emission regulations, increasing demand for high-efficiency vehicles, and growth in automotive industry are the major factors driving the growth of the global automotive elastomers market. The global automotive elastomers market faces challenges such as price volatility and lack of balance between automotive elastomers performance and cost.
The implementation of stringent environmental regulations worldwide is propelling the demand for reduction of CO2 emission, which drives the global automotive elastomers market. Several international organizations are framing strict guidelines and standards for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, the European and North American legislations have formulated broad agendas towards the development of lightweight materials to minimize CO2 emission and achieve the targeted level of emissions by 2025. Various developments across Asia-Pacific for reducing carbon emission have also increased. China, the biggest greenhouse gases emitter, is planning to introduce new policies, which is expected to control the carbon emission. Additionally, other Asia-Pacific countries such as India, Australia and Indonesia are also introducing new norms and regulation to mitigate the climate change by reducing carbon emission. Deployment of these policies worldwide is expected to offer significant growth opportunities in the automotive elastomers market.
Europe and North America are strictly adhering to the emission norms and focusing on fuel economy that necessitate the manufacturers to use the automotive elastomers due to its light weight, long durability, and high precision application in gaskets, hoses, and weather seals. In North America, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced emission standards for cars and light trucks. According to the target, the permissible emission from a passenger car shall not exceed 225 grams per miles (g/mi) for 2016. The planned permissible emission limit for passenger car is 143 g/mi for 2025. Similarly, the permissible combined fuel economy for cars and trucks is 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) for 2016, which would increase up to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
The growing economies and improving standards of living in countries such as China and India are the factors resulted in increased sale volumes. The use of elastomers in cars manufactured in Asia-Pacific is less, as compared to North America and Europe; however, the high production volume in Asia-Pacific has made it an attractive automotive elastomers market. The increasing industrialization has increased the overall purchasing power of consumers. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the annual per capita disposable income of urban households in China increased from $2,818.6 in 2010 to $4,692.9 in 2014. The per capita GDP of India increased from $1,432.3 in 2010 to $1,500.8 in 2012, and is expected to reach $1,869.3 by 2018. The increase in disposable income or per capita GDP illustrates an increase in affordability of high performance vehicles in these countries. Such trend is expected to support increase in the demand for automotive elastomers.
The global automotive elastomers manufacturers are increasing their capacity to manufacture high performance elastomers. This strengthens the position of the companies in the global automotive elastomers market. In April 2015, LANXESS AG successfully established new ethylene propylene diene rubber (EPDM) plant in Changzhou (Jiangsu Province), China. The new plant would manufacture total ten premium grades of EPDM tailored to Chinese and Asian customer needs. Similarly, in July 2016, Exxon Mobil Corporation announced plans to expand its specialty elastomers plant in Newport, Wales. The project is expected to be completed by late 2017 and would result in a 25% increase in its global capacity to manufacture Santoprene thermoplastic vulcanizate, high-performance elastomers used for automotive, industrial and consumer applications.
Some of the other key players in the global automotive elastomers market include BASF SE, LANXESS AG, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, LyondellBasell Industries N.V., The Dow Chemical Company, Huntsman International LLC, 3M Company, China Petrochemical Corporation, and Kuraray Co. Ltd.
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