London, England – Chemical companies are facing considerable opportunities as automakers “go green,” according to a new report by research firm Frost & Sullivan. While electric vehicles represent a prime opportunity, chemical companies must also develop products for the unmet needs of automakers, rather than just pushing existing products in a new sector, the study said.
Although weight reduction helps vehicles meet CO2 emissions targets, metal remains the material of choice for auto companies, not only because it is traditional and easy to work with, but it may be the best material to address increasingly stringent end of life of vehicle (ELV) legislation.
“Plastics and composites need to be greener, more recyclable and sustainably sourced in order to meet future ELV targets and escape fiscal penalties,” said Robert Outram, Frost & Sullivan’s global program manager for transportation chemicals. “Therefore, recycling, performance and sustainable production should be key focus points of R&D programmes with clear objectives and targets based on unmet needs.”
To increase the uptake of non-metallic parts in vehicles, chemical companies should be developing products made from sustainable sources, and doing more to specifically address the needs of the automotive industry. “BMW’s joint venture with SGL Group to provide composites for its new electric vehicle fleet, Nissan starting its own electric battery production for its U.K. electric vehicles plant, and Caterpillar producing its own line of hydraulic fluids for its plant vehicles are recent examples of OEMs taking matters into their own hands,” Outram said, “because the chemicals industry has failed to provide adequate materials for the automotive industry to use in future vehicle projects.”