Cape Town, South Africa -- Plastics are continuously replacing metal and glass in automobile applications in South Africa to give lightweight, inexpensive parts. This integration of plastics has been instrumental in the automotive industry's ability to develop high-performance vehicles with improved safety features and fuel economy.
South African Market for Automotive Plastics, a new analysis from Frost & Sullivan (www.chemicals.frost.com), finds that the market earned revenues of $157.3 million in 2009 and estimates that this will reach $207.7 million in 2016. The analysis includes polyurethane, as well as polypropylene (PP), polyamides (PA), acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and polycarbonate (PC).
"The most significant driver for automotive plastics is the cost-reduction implication as a result of using plastics instead of its more expensive metal and glass counterparts," commented Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Laura Peinke, in an F&S release. "Since consumer buying power is still low due to the global economy emerging from the recession, low-cost vehicles will ensure increased vehicle sales."
F&S also notes that reinforced plastics for structural parts are able to combine the functionalities of metal with the weight reductions offered by plastics, resulting in weight shedding of up to 50 per cent. Other safety features --- seat belts, air bags and air bag containers exploit plastics and F&S noted that "Safety features will continue to drive innovation in plastics applications, providing a sustained impetus for the inclusion of engineering plastics in the production of automotive vehicles."
The economic crisis of 2008/2009 has resulted in the automotive sector significantly reducing production, the group comments. "Despite the economy gradually stabilising, consumer buying power remains low, resulting in sluggish growth in the automotive sector and a consequent low demand for automotive plastics," according to F&S.
"Although the automobile industry is expected to suffer low demand as a result of decreased purchasing power in the short-term, the automobile production and innovation processes will drive demand through the long term," notes research analyst Dilshaad Booley.
F&S says that more use of plastics in vehicles to substitute metals and glass is vital to reduce manufacturing costs and hence cut the cost of the vehicle.
"The market allows for easy entry with low capital costs," concludes Booley. "Manufacturers who keep abreast of the latest technological advancements and applications will be the suppliers of choice."