Automotive Polycarbonate Glazing Market – Regulations Against the Use of Glass to Unlock Opportunities

According to a recently published study by Transparency Market Research (TMR), ~3.3 Mn square meters worth of automotive polycarbonate glazing was sold in 2018, and is projected to grow at a volume CAGR of ~11% during 2019-2027. This spurt in growth is highly attributable to the pursuit of automakers for lightweight materials to enhance the fuel efficiency of automotive vehicles. The lightweight feature of polycarbonate glazing material allows design freedom, which offers the desired space for innovation to automakers.

Since consumers resonate better with features over functions, automotive sunroofs are gradually being a viable proposition in vehicles. Since the glass used for sunroofs, windshields, and other parts of an automotive are highly susceptible to damage during a road mishap, numerous vehicle safety protocols require automakers to incorporate only tampered glass, laminated glass, and glass plastic. However, to ensure complete safety, automakers are evincing high reliance on automotive polycarbonate glazing as a replacement to traditional glass, which is likely to create sustainable growth opportunities for the industry.

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Environmental Concerns of Polycarbonates Despite Adoption in Electric Vehicles

Recently, Toyota announced that the company will begin testing a solar roof that has the capacity of adding as much as 45 Km to an electric vehicle a day, using solar cells. These solar cells that are merely 0.03 mm thick, and deliver around 860 watts of power, and even possess the competency to charge the EV while it is being driven. With shifting focus towards solar energy as a source of fuel to drive the penetration of futuristic cars, panels manufactured from polycarbonate will remain integral in underpinning this movement.

However, polycarbonate is but a form of plastic from the polymer family, with its own environmental concerns. Increasing awareness among companies and government entities regarding the environment implications of polycarbonates drives their attention towards the environmental performance of their business operations. A check on carbon footprints has instigated numerous countries such as the U.S., and Japan to implement a ban on the use of polycarbonates for automotive glazing, which will act as a throttle to the growth of the global market.

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North America to Gain Attractiveness in Automotive Polycarbonate Glazing Market

In 2015, Europe scrapped the illegal status of polycarbonates and encouraged its use in the automotive sector. This offered a huge momentum to the adoption of automotive polycarbonate glazing for the manufacturing of windscreens. In 2019, Europe will account for ~29% of the market share, while Asia Pacific will retain its traditional lead with a market share of ~41%. Asia Pacific’s lead in the industry is attributable to the high concentration of OEMs such as Honda, Tata, Suzuki, Toyota, Hyundai, and SAIC.

Apart from the high-value growth of the Asia Pacific market, North America holds a mine of potential for the automotive polycarbonate glazing market. The quest for safety and convenience is leading to an underway shift towards the incorporation of polycarbonates in automotive, away from glass, which will upkeep the attractiveness of the region during the forecast period.

Analysts’ Viewpoint

Authors of the report anticipate promising opportunities for the automotive polycarbonate glazing market, as cosmetic features such as panoramic roofs lead to better sales prospects. However, besides such features, manufacturers are also realizing the safety feature that automotive polycarbonate glazing offers, which is likely to serve as an instrument to the advancement of the industry. In order to cater to the perpetual rise in demand, market players need to make investments towards the expansion of their production facilities. On top of that, research & development initiatives can be taken up by market players to upgrade the quality of automotive polycarbonate glazing and help automakers achieve reduced weight and increased fuel-efficiency in their vehicles.

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Automotive Polycarbonate Glazing Market

  • The global automotive polycarbonate glazing market is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of ~9% between 2019 and 2027
  • The sun control glazing segment currently holds a prominent share of the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market, and it is likely to gain share, owing to rising preference for cabin comfort among consumers.
  • Based on application, the backlite segment holds a leading share of the automotive polycarbonate glazing market, owing to the preferred use of polycarbonate in rear windshields for weight saving.
  • The switchable glazing segment is anticipated expand significantly in the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market during the forecast period, owing to a rise in sales of luxury vehicles. Switchable glazing allows the driver to control the amount of tint, and can also automatically control the light penetrating the cabin depending upon the weather outside.

Drivers of Automotive Polycarbonate Glazing Market

The automotive polycarbonate glazing market is expanding rapidly due to its advantages of being lightweight, and possessing superior thermal and molding characteristics.

  • The rising demand for fuel efficiency and enhanced esthetic appearance among consumers is anticipated to drive the adoption of polycarbonate glazing. Polycarbonate materials possess superior moldability as compared to that offered by glass, offers designing freedom, and enables the integration of parts that were previously not possible.
  • Governments across the globe are enacting stringent regulations to lower vehicle pollution. Countries such as China, India, Brazil, and Mexico are expected to adopt the Euro VI equivalent norms. Automakers are compelled to adopt lightweight materials, such as polycarbonate, in order to comply with the emission standards.
  • These factors are expected to act as drivers for the growth of the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market.

Challenges for Automotive Polycarbonate Glazing Market

  • Polycarbonates are highly susceptible to scratches. Polycarbonates need to be coated with coating material to enhance their scratch resistance, which drives up the cost of polycarbonate glazing.
  • Polycarbonates expand and contract more than glass, which hampers the production of larger weather-seal polycarbonate glazed applications such as front windshields.
  • Polycarbonates turn yellow and foggy long before the life expectancy of the vehicle, leading to discomfort to the driver.
  • These factors are capable of impeding the growth of the global automotive polycarbonate glazing during the forecast period.

Automotive Polycarbonate Glazing Market: Segment Analysis

  • The global automotive polycarbonate glazing market has been segmented based on technology, application, sales channel, vehicle, and region.
  • Based on technology, the sun control glazing segment is expected to hold a major share of the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market, owing to the rising consumer demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. Sun control glazing minimizes the load on the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioner unit, and consequently minimizes the load on the engine. The increased demand for comfortable cabin space and rise in stringency of emission norms are anticipated to boost the adoption of sun control glazing.
  • In terms of application, the backlit segment dominated the automotive polycarbonate glazing market, due to the high usage of polycarbonate in rear windshield applications, which is the largest glass panel, as manufacturers shift toward lightweighting, and the use of polycarbonate helps reduce weight.
  • In terms of sales channel, the OEMs segment is estimated to hold a notable share of the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market, as the polycarbonates supplied for automotive glazing are primarily OEM-fitted. The aftermarket segment is expected to expand in the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market, due to the rising demand for replacements, owing to damages from accidents and vehicle maintenance.
  • Based on vehicle, the passenger vehicles segment is expected to hold a dominant share of the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market. The high rate of adoption of advanced technology and consumer demand for fuel-efficiency are estimated to further drive the passenger vehicles segment in the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market.

Global Automotive Polycarbonate Glazing Market: Regional Analysis

  • In terms of region, Asia Pacific holds a leading share of the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market, driven by the high automotive production in China and Japan.
  • Asia Pacific is followed by Europe and North America in terms of share of the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market. High consumer affordability and stringent emission norms are boosting the adoption of polycarbonates in automotive glazing.

Global Automotive Polycarbonate Glazing Market: Competition Landscape

Key players operating in the global automotive polycarbonate glazing market include

  • SABIC
  • Covestro AG
  • Saint-Gobain
  • Corning Incorporated
  • Nippon Sheet Glass Co., Ltd
  • Fuyao Group
  • AGC Inc.
  • TEIJIN LIMITED
  • freeglass GmbH & Co.KG.
  • Webasto
  • Peerless Plastics and Coatings
  • dott.gallina s.r.l.
  • KRD Sicherheitstechnik GmbH.

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