“In 2019, I anticipated that materials developers and enhanced plastics parts manufacturers would play a central role in an industry shift toward lightweighting and autonomous vehicles. I think we’ll see more of this in 2020, as well as an increased focus on sustainable and recycled materials.
Lightweighting Will Remain a Big Trend in 2020: OEMs are continuing to use different types of plastics and design slimmer parts to decrease overall vehicle weight and increase fuel efficiency. Switching to plastics allows vehicles to travel further on a single tank and increases the distance range for electric vehicles (EVs) that rely on charging stations. I anticipate we will see further material advancements here in 2020 as OEMs increase the number of EV vehicles they offer.
EV Manufacturing on the Rise: In the same vein as lightweighting, expect OEMs to add new makes and models to their EV portfolio in 2020. This move comes at a good time as, according to a recent study from Deloitte, 41% of U.S. consumers say they are actively considering a hybrid-electric or battery-electric vehicle for their next purchase. But there’s a catch. The same percentage of consumers also believe that full battery-EVs should have a range of 300 miles – something OEMs will need to develop further. Plastic materials will help make this possible through lighter weight parts and applications, including plastic encapsulations for lithium-ion batteries and resin bonds in battery cells.
Autonomous Vehicles Get More Autonomous: In 2019, automakers moved into level three autonomy, which allows a car to drive itself without a passenger’s eyes on the road (levels one and two require full driver attention). The Audi A8 was the first vehicle to boast this technology, and we will see it continue to advance in 2020 and beyond. The smarter autonomous vehicles get, the more sensors, connectors, and wire and cabling are needed to handle computational bandwidth requirements. The use of plastics in the development of these components provides new levels of customizability, durability, and safety for intricate interior vehicle networks.
Sustainability Picks Up Speed: We continue to see sustainability impact every one of our markets at M. Holland, and automotive is no exception. Sustainability has become increasingly important to OEMs as they push zero waste initiatives, work to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, and demand more sustainable materials and slimmer, lighter weight parts. I expect to see OEMs push for more plastics materials made with recycled content in 2020 to give a second life to existing plastics products and divert waste from landfills.
Automotive innovation will continue gaining traction in 2020, and I can’t wait to see the ingenuity that will come to fruition. If the last decade was any indicator, this new one is sure to be the automotive market’s most transformative.”
– Authored by Matt Zessin, Market Manager, Automotive
Thank you for following along with each of our 2020 Plastics Market Forecast series blog posts. Make sure to check out all of our previously-published market insights, including input from our Healthcare, 3D Printing, Wire & Cable, Electrical & Electronics, Flexible Packaging, Rotational Molding, and Color & Compounding market managers.