Scale will drive efficiency, especially in captive programs with automotive OEMs who need a secure source of supply. Precursor knowledge is the key to technological leadership, given the fact that precursor costs are half (or more) of the final cost of a pound or kilo of carbon fiber and the quality of precursor has a significant impact on final carbon fiber product quality. Captive programs also allow for greater customer intimacy, helping carbon fiber producers to improve quality and value for the end user.
In conclusion, the carbon fiber industry is developing in a dynamic way, at a rapid pace. The future? All we know for certain is that it will be bigger than today – much bigger.
The Automotive Market
By Marc Benevento, Managing Director of Industrial Market Insight
At nearly 4 billion pounds in 2015, composites represented about 1 percent of all materials used in light vehicle production, by mass, including applications to both the vehicle body and interior. Although the market share of composites is relatively low, rising regulatory requirements and consumer demands are creating a wave of opportunity for composites in automotive body structures, and suppliers are working diligently to seize it.
Industry forecasts predict annual growth rates of 6 to 9 percent for automotive composites over the next several years, due to the ability of carbon fiber composites to help manufacturers meet increasing fuel economy and safety regulations. However, these growth forecasts are predicated on the industry’s ability to successfully meet challenges related to cost, cycle time and end-of-life concerns, which will require breakthroughs in materials and process technologies.