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Global automotive coatings industry- An overview of the technology landscape


Aesthetics is the watchword in today’s automotive era’- this concept has brought a significant transformation in the global automotive coatings industry landscape over the recent years. The world has witnessed a remarkable transit in global automotive coatings market since the last couple of decades. More than a 100 years ago, when the automotive industry was taking baby steps toward progression, cars used to be painted by brushes with a varnish-like product onto the vehicle surfaces. After applying the coat for multiple layers, the vehicle was then polished to reflect a shiny surface. Thus, every step toward painting or coating vehicles was done manually, and the time required to coat the vehicle and prepare it for sale would normally take up to 40 days.
 


 

The initial years of the 20th century, i.e., the period between the 1920s and 1940s witnessed a sudden, positive upsurge in the automotive coatings sector, with the deployment of technology based products such as spray equipment and stoving enamels. These tech-based products, back then, drastically decreased the application and the drying time to a week or even lesser.
 

Over the years, the automotive sector has witnessed a number of technological advancements, subject to which automotive coatings market has also undergone a dramatic transformation. Of late, the emergence of the robotics technology has led to robots being deployed for coating automobiles. Also, consumers have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a car in the color of their choice, as coatings are now available in a variety of colors. The availability of this aesthetic color palette and its application on vehicles has a profound impact on car sales, propelling global automotive sector, the growth of which will subsequently fuel global automotive coatings market in the years to come.
 

A significant rise in the vehicle production and sales in the emerging economies of India, China, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea, owing to the economic development in these countries, is set to provide a major impetus to the expansion of automotive coatings industry. As per a report by Global Market Insights, Inc., “Automotive coatings market is expected to grow at a rate of 5% over the period of 2015-2022.”
 

In recent times, the texture, color, coat, and appearance of the car are the most notable features that affect a customer’s buying decision. An exquisite finish has a major role to play in the vehicle sales. In consequence, it should come as no surprise that carmakers fret over the quality and finish of car coatings. Today, automotive coatings industry has advanced standardized processes than what were available earlier.
 

OEMs in the automotive industry are looking for technologies that will help them have a competitive edge over the other market players. The paragraphs below outline the three key automotive coating technologies that are predominant in the automotive coatings market:
 

Solvent-borne coatings

Solvent-based coatings have long dominated automotive coatings market, but are likely to lose some of the market share in coming years. The demand for solvent-based automotive coatings market is declining due to the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in these coatings, which poses ecological concerns. The EPA has stated that use of VOCs should be strictly controlled, subject to the major health risks including nose, eye, and throat irritation, nausea, headaches, loss of co-ordination, kidney damage, liver damage, and central nervous system issues. Moreover, some other solvents are even suspected to cause cancer in animals as well as humans. The amount of organic solvents that are emitted into the atmosphere during the manufacturing and application of solvent-based coatings is presently more than 32% of the overall VOC emissions. This is the primary reason why waterborne automotive coatings are gaining prominence over the solvent-based counterparts.

 

Nevertheless, solvent-based variants in automotive coatings industry still poses a sizable revenue, but are likely to lose out on the industry share due to high environmental issues. As per a report, in 2014, global solvent-borne automotive coatings market generated revenue worth over USD 7.9 billion.
 

Waterborne coatings

Waterborne technology coatings are gaining popularity, as they are perhaps the easiest way to combat VOC restrictions. These paints have about 90% lower VOC content than their solvent-based counterparts. They make use of water (around 80%) as solvents, which make them environment-friendly and easy to apply. They also serve as an ideal primer, on account of possessing excellent adhesion and resistance properties.  
 

Somewhere around 50 years ago, all paints & coatings were solvent-based. But eventually with the advent of eco-friendly technologies, high quality waterborne coatings are creating a larger marketplace for themselves. Waterborne automotive coatings market demand is estimated to witness a robust growth, owing to the excellent characteristics and stringent government norms regarding the use of solvents.
 

Powder Coatings

Automakers are today willing to invest heavily in novel technologies for lending the perfect finish to their automobiles. In this regard, nowadays, carmakers often use powder coating technologies, which is much more superior than most of its counterparts in automotive coatings market. This technology has quickly taken over a significantly large share of the market, thereby making huge inroads in automotive coatings industry. In fact, powder coatings market is anticipated to witness highest gains of 6% CAGR over the period of 2016-2024. The superior characteristics of this technology such as high efficiency, durability, easy application, customization, and minimal wastage will impel its revenue over the next few years. Global powder automotive coatings market is expected to surpass a revenue generation of over USD 3.5 billion by 2022, having had collected more than USD 2 billion in 2014. Rising application of this technology in basecoats & primers will catalyze worldwide automotive coatings industry in the span of next few years.
 

As powder coating technology meets the environmental regulations, many car manufacturers are deploying the same for their automobiles. Chrysler in North America is now using powder coatings for its primer surface operations. General Motors is also using this technology for its truck plants. In Europe, BMW plants have also incorporated powder coatings technology for their clearcoat process. The widespread implementation of this technology will lead global automotive coatings industry to grow lucratively over 2015-2022.
 

The technologies implemented in automotive coatings market have come a long way since the early 1940s.  Today, there are so many more advanced, sophisticated, & efficient technologies available in the market. The remarkable development of automotive coatings industry is the result of the availability of excellent raw material and continuous enhancements in the manufacturing processes. Experts predict that there is always room in automotive coatings industry for technologies that are still evolving and those that are still in the research and testing phases.
 

Global Market Insights, Inc. has a report titled “Automotive Coatings Market Size By End-Use (Commercial OEM, Automotive Refinish, Light Vehicle OEM), By Application (Plastic, Metal), By Technology (Solventborne, Waterborne, UV-Cured, Powder Coatings), By Product (Electrocoat, Primer, Clearcoat, Basecoat), Industry Analysis Report, Regional Outlook, Application Potential, Price Trend, Competitive Market Share & Forecast, 2015 – 2022” available at https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/automotive-coatings-market-report .