Auto Industry Goes Under the Hood to Improve Fuel Efficiency with Increased Composite Use

November 02, 2015

Wellesley, Mass., November 02, 2015 – In 2012, the U.S. government issues new rules that require automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks by 2025.  BCC Research reveals in its new report that the auto industry endeavors to meet efficiency standards by reducing vehicle weight without sacrificing size and functionality while keeping costs down.

This study analyzes the automotive carbon-fiber-composite market which has grown around the automotive industry’s attempt to meet government mandates to improve fuel economy. The report attempts to quantify consumption and projected growth of the major types of carbon-reinforced plastic composites used in a wide array of automotive parts.

The global market for composites in automotive applications is forecast to increase from 9.1 million pounds in 2015 to 13.2 million pounds in 2020, reflecting a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7%. Composites in exterior applications, the largest segment, should grow from almost 6 million pounds in 2015 to 8.3 million pounds billion in 2020, at a 6.8% CAGR. The fastest growing segment, composites used in “under-the-hood,” is anticipated to reach 2.9 million pounds and 4.6 million pounds in 2015 and 2020, respectively, at a CAGR of 9.5%. 

The major composites used in the manufacture of autos will be composed of carbon fibers. However, prices of carbon fibers are still considered to be relatively high, and new technologies are constantly being introduced and/or updated, with aluminum, plastics, and plastic composites being the most prominent materials.

Since the industry has converted most interiors to lighter plastics, and significant weight reduction has been achieved in exteriors, the greatest weight reduction will occur in the “under-the-hood” segment.

“Generally, trends to replace metals under-the-hood, in covers and in the fuel systems with fiber-reinforced resins continue unabated. Intake manifolds may soon be the norm following plastic fuel tanks, for instance,” says BCC Research analyst Melvin Schlechter. “Making a car with extensive use of carbon fiber composites would reduce the weight by about 50%, but is said to add about $2,700 to its costs. In addition, carbon fibers are light and strong, but carbon fiber prices are said to be at least $10 per pound compared with 40 cents per pound for steel, which is another way of looking at the cost difference. There is obviously much pressure on automobile OEMs at the moment to meet the new CAFE standards.”

Composites in Automotive Applications (PLS081A) attempts to quantify consumption and projected growth of the major types of carbon-reinforced plastic composites used in a wide array of automotive parts. The report identifies market dynamics, growth drivers, inhibitors, opportunities, and forecasts trends and revenue through 2020.

Editors and reporters who wish to speak with the analyst should contact Steven Cumming at

Composites in Automotive Applications( PLS081A )
Publish Date: Oct 2015    

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