Automotive lightweighting is a technology that is utilized to reduce the weight of the vehicle by incorporating lightweight materials in body frames, structures and components. The evolution of the industry has witnessed the usage of lightweight materials such as titanium and carbon fiber against conventional steel and aluminum.
The Chassis utilizing the maximum metal is the key component of the lightweight market. The automotive industry has witnessed the usage of high strength steel chassis, as they are 20% lighter than their steel counterparts. Aluminum is widely used in structural parts and frame of the vehicle. The automotive lightweighting market is likely to expand in the near future as regulatory bodies have called for higher emission standards. Usage of lightweight materials reduces emissions by approximately 0.08g CO2/Kg, which in turn is boosting the implementation of lightweighting technology in powertrains and suspensions systems. The trend of using plastic and fiber materials for the interiors, fenders, and bumpers has increased. Europe has set targets to reduce the current emission per vehicle of 140 gCO2/KM to decline to 95 gCO2/KM by 2020. The adoption of electric vehicles has led to the development of lightweight solutions, as the battery considerably adds to the body weight of the vehicle. Carbon fiber holds the key to future lightweighting solutions, as it offers a greater degree of freedom and weighs 50% less than steel. The legislation in Europe targets of 85% vehicle recyclability; carbon fiber recyclability success is projected to boosts the lightweighting market in Europe.
Plastic is the predominant material that is utilized in vehicle interiors, as it offers a good cost-to-weight ratio. The development of reinforced and high strength plastic for its usage as windshield and window glass is estimated to increase the lightweighting market of plastics. The hybrid and electric vehicles is set to hold a major share of the automotive lightweighting market. The demand of lightweighting material such as high strength steel is estimated to rise due to its use in premium cars such as Mercedes for the body and power train systems
Maintenance and repair of carbon fiber material is difficult, as any damage cannot often be visually inspected; however, it requires acoustic, ultrasonic, or x-ray imaging. Carbon fiber is five to six times more expensive than steel; however; the price of carbon fire is estimated to be significantly comparable to aluminum in the near future, due to the current efforts being taken to develop fast cutting resins and reduce the production cycle time. This, in turn, is expected to boost the application of carbon fiber in vehicles.
The global automotive lightweighting market can be segmented based on type of material, application, and region. Based on material, the market can be segmented into high strength steel, aluminum, plastics, carbon fibers and titanium. High strength steel and aluminum segments, presently, hold a major share of the market. Increase in usage of plastic in dashboards, bumpers, and interiors has raised the market for light weight plastics and it is projected to expand further. The development of lightweight titanium chassis by car manufacturer Areil has led to the usage of titanium as a lightweight material and the use of titanium is expected to grow in motor sport industry. In terms of application, the automotive lightweighting market can be classified into powertrain, chassis, suspension, steering, and interiors. The lightweighting of chassis and powertrain is responsible for controlling emissions and thus, their demand is anticipated to increase due to the further introduction of emission regulations. Based on region, the lightweighting market can be segmented into North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. North America is a prominent manufacturer of light trucks, and the regulation Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) passed by NHTSA sets emissions standards for cars and light trucks. This, in turn, is projected to boost the automotive lightweighting market in North America. The lightweighting market in Europe has expanded at a significant growth rate, as the current vehicle generation is 12% lighter than the previous one. Europe being home to major luxury auto manufacturers enacting stringent emission norms is the leading market for automotive lightweighting. The increase in production of electric vehicles in China and Japan is projected to boost the lightweighting market in the region.
Key players operating in the automotive lightweighting market include ArcelorMittal that manufactures lightweight steels., BASF SE produces lightweight plastics and composites for automobiles. Toray Industries, Inc. manufactures carbon fiber materials for monocoque body structures. Arconic and U.S. Magnesium LLC are also the key players operating in the lightweighting market.
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