Automotive use of carbon composites will grow to $6 billion in 2020, up from about $2.1 billion today, according to a Lux Research forecast presented last week at the Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition at Novi, Michigan.
“Growth in automotive since 2012 exceeded expectations, but truly large-volume adoption depends on future technical advances and forward-looking partnerships,” said Anthony Schiavo, a research associate for Lux in Boston.
One key advance will be development of lower cost, alternative precursors, such as textile-grade PAN, lignin and polyolefin. Schiavo predicted that only textile-grade PAN will be in full-scale production by 2020. Poor mechanical performance is holding back fibers derived from lignin and polyolefins.
“While the post-2020 potential market opportunity for carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs) in automotive is very large relative to traditional applications, the exact timing of adoption that far out is uncertain,” said Schiavo.
“Commercial penetration depends on overcoming challenges throughout the value chain to unlock full opportunity–look to emerging developers for partnership opportunities.”