Canadian Plastics

Carbon fibre to go mainstream in auto industry by 2025: report

February 18, 2015   Canadian Plastics

Driven by a faster-than-expected pace of technology development, carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CFRPs) will be poised to gain widespread adoption for automotive lightweighting by 2025, according to a new report.

The report – by Boston, Mass.-based Lux Research – estimates that advances already underway in fibre, resin and composite part production will lead to a US$6 billion market for automotive CFRPs in 2020.

“Current trends strongly indicate significant mainstream automotive adoption of CFRPs in the mid-2020s, and companies throughout the value chain must position themselves to take advantage of the coming shifts,” said Anthony Vicari, Lux Research associate and the lead author of the report. “However, long-term megatrends towards urbanization, connectivity and automation suggest that there could be a limited time window beyond that for penetrating the automotive space.”

“CFRP developers will have to continue the pace of innovation to overcome the high cost that has so far limited the material to less price-sensitive markets like aerospace and sporting goods,” Vicari added.

Among the report’s findings:

• Growing partnerships hasten development. The number of direct partnerships between carmakers or Tier-1 automotive suppliers and carbon fibre players has nearly doubled to 11 since 2012. Toray Plastics Inc., with partnerships with Plasan Carbon Composites and Magna International, has formed the most new relationships and is a major hub.

• Patent uptick suggests mid-2020 adoption. Using a predictive tool, Lux Research identified a lag of about 18 years between uptick of patent activity and attainment of mainstream commercial adoption milestones. With another major upturn in CFRP patent activity occurring in 2007, large-scale mainstream automotive use is likely by the mid-2020s.

• Other manufacturing costs need to be cut. Carbon fibre itself, at US$28/kg for standard modulus fiber, represents just 22% of the cost of a final CFRP part. Additional advances are needed to reduce capital, labour, energy, resin and processing costs, which together make up the remaining 78%.

The report is titled “Scaling Up Carbon Fiber: Roadmap to Automotive Adoption”. For more, click on this link.


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