Automotive Glass Market Sees Robust Growth
Exponentially growing vehicle production and sales around the globe, increasing glass applications in passenger cars, growing popularity of SUV, and the trend of laminated side glazing to improve safety are identified as the key drivers for the automotive glass industry.
The value of the Automotive Glass Market projected to grow at a CAGR of 4.80%, to reach a market size of $23.59 billion by 2025. The automotive glass market is also influenced by government regulations for vehicle safety, advancements in smart glass technologies that help optimize the cabin temperature and increase fuel efficiency.
The major players in the global automotive glass market are Saint-Gobain (France), Asahi Glass (Japan), Fuyao Glass (China), Samvardhana Motherson (India), Webasto (Germany), Xinyi Glass (China), Nippon Sheet Glass (Japan), Gentex Corporation(US), Corning (US), and Magna International (Canada)
Increasing applications of glass & penetration of smart glass are driving the global automotive glass market
With changing consumer preferences in the automotive industry, the demand for SUV and MPV has grown in recent years. In the US, for example, Kia Rondo and Ford C-Max are well-known MPVs. Compact SUVs are a new trend in the automotive industry and have become popular in emerging markets such as India. For instance, Ford EcoSport, a compact SUV, has been registering impressive double-digit growth in the Indian market.
The global SUV production has increased from 12.8 million units in 2014 to 20.8 million units in 2016. As SUVs are larger than passenger cars, these vehicles require more volume of glass. Quarter glass used in large vehicles is generally not found in passenger cars. Vehicle manufacturers are now extending the windshield to merge with the roof of the vehicle. These extended windshields give the vehicle a sporty look and extend the driver's field of view. They have thus become a unique selling point of the vehicle. A panoramic windshield is another major trend in the automotive industry. These windshields extend to the side of the vehicle and give the driver better visibility along with a feeling of spaciousness in the vehicle.
Sunroofs, which provide passengers a sense of freedom, have gained popularity in recent years. Initially, the sunroof was a luxury feature that was offered in premium vehicles. However, several OEMs are now offering sunroofs in sedans and compact SUVs. Also, many car manufacturers provide sunroof as a standard feature in mid-segment vehicles. For example, Honda offers a sunroof in Honda WR V.
The global production of sunroofs has increased from 9.8 million units in 2015 to an estimated 11.3 million units in 2017. Sunroofs can also extend along the entire roof, which ensures a larger glazing area on the car. For example, the Jaguar XJ has a sunroof which is 50 inches long and 45 inches wide. The Lincoln MKZ has a sunroof with a surface area of 15.2 square feet. In the entry segment, the Chevrolet Sonic comes with a 15.25 inch by 32-inch sunroof. Other vehicles that feature a sunroof are the Hyundai Santa Fe, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, Audi Q3, and Land Rover LR2, among others.
The usage of smart glass has increased over the years with increased production of luxury vehicles. According to MarkLines, luxury vehicle production has increased from 27 million units in 2012 to 37.9 million units in 2016. The increasing luxury vehicle production bodes well for the automotive glass industry owing to the increasing use of glass in this vehicle segment.
The emergence of smart glass has also increased the number of glass applications. A smart glass provides the driver with additional information. For instance, Gentex launched a side-view mirror that provides a video feed reducing blind spots. Thus, the increasing use of glass in automobiles is driving the automotive glass market.
Polycarbonate glazing as an alternative to glass
The increasing popularity of electric vehicles has also led manufacturers to reduce the weight of the vehicle to attain a maximum driving range of the vehicle. According to industry experts, for every 10% reduction in the weight of the vehicle, fuel efficiency can be increased by 7%-8%.
The automotive industry has been relying on hefty glass sheet applications over the years. These glass sheets not only increase the overall weight but also increase the risk of injuries during an accident.
With fuel efficiency norms becomingly increasingly stringent across the globe (such as Corporate Average Fuel Economy), the automotive industry is focusing on reducing the weight of new vehicles. The increasing popularity of electric vehicles has also led manufacturers to reduce the weight of the vehicle to attain a maximum driving range of the vehicle. According to industry experts, for every 10% reduction in the weight of the vehicle, fuel efficiency can be increased by 7%-8%.
Polycarbonate has half the density of glass; glazing made with polycarbonate is 40%-50% lighter than glass of the same dimensions. Polycarbonate glazing is primarily used in applications such as sidelite, backlite, sunroof, and automotive lighting lenses. As it is lightweight, polycarbonate glazing reduces the weight of these applications by 40%-50%. Moreover, it is shatterproof and enhances the safety of the occupants in case of an accident. Polycarbonate glazing is not used in vehicle windshields as regulations do not allow its usage. According to SABIC (Saudi Arabia), the use of polycarbonate glazing can reduce around 20kg of weight in a car.
Tesla has recently launched its affordable Model 3, which has a one-piece full panoramic sunroof. Cars with such designs are likely to use polycarbonate glazing for weight reduction purposes if regulations do not restrict OEMs. If the use of polycarbonate glazing is regularized, the increasing production of passenger cars would boost its demand as it can significantly reduce the weight of a vehicle. The advantages of polycarbonate glazing such as reduced weight and increased strength and safety can make it an alternative to automotive glass.
Polycarbonate glazing also offers automobile designers more freedom when compared with conventional glass. Panoramic roofs and large windscreens are tough to mold with glass. Polycarbonate glass can be a better alternative for the curves and body lines of new car designs. The polycarbonate glazing is also suitable for advanced applications such as head-up display, large windscreen, switchable glazing, hydrophobic glazing, and sun control glazing among others.