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Although replacing steel with composites can reduce vehicle weight and overall fuel consumption, cost savings will be the primary driver for adoption, according to Lux Research.
The accelerating demand for more fuel-efficient cars has raised hopes that automakers will accelerate their adoption of lightweight automotive composites. As an alternative to steel and aluminium, polymer-based composites can lower overall vehicle weight and help reduce fuel consumption. Yet, despite their potential benefits for consumers and the environment, composites are unlikely to replace steel except in applications where they reduce manufacturing costs for the automaker, according to a new report by Lux Research.
Titled “”Chasing Cars: Can Composites Catch Up to Steel?,”” the report surveys the factors promoting and impeding the adoption of composite materials, examines their potential to replace metals as the dominant material in cars, and identifies technologies in development that could potentially change how composites compare down the road.
“”The conventional wisdom that automakers will adopt composites solely for weight reduction misses the mark,”” said David Hwang, an analyst for Lux Research and the report’s lead author. “”In reality, composites will find the most use in places where they help cut manufacturing costs, such as in low-volume production and electric vehicles.””
In preparing its analysis, Lux Research surveyed leading automakers and composite material suppliers regarding factors that would most likely accelerate or slow adoption of composites in automotive design. Among the report’s key findings:
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