10% of a car’s construction is made up of polymers and this ratio is steadily increasing.  To improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, manufacturers are seeking ways to reduce car weight by replacing metal parts with polymer alternatives.

Considered an essential material in car manufacturing, Polymer’s properties compare favourably to metal in areas including strength and flexibility while also being easier to integrate into complex designs. Polymers are widely used in automotive interiors and exteriors, such as door handles, trunks, window panels, windshields and under the hood parts. These parts can be exposed to harsh working conditions caused by heat, vibration or emissions, such as gears, fuel systems and engine components.

The rise in popularity of electric vehicles is accelerating the growth of polymer use in the Automotive segment. The rigidity and flexibility of engineering polymers make them more suitable for E-vehicle performance and aesthetic needs.

According to market research from Fortune business insights, in 2019, the global automotive plastic industry was worth 40.91 billion USD, and in 2027, the market size is estimated to increase to 53.85 billion USD with a compounded increase rate of 5.3%.

As polymer usage is increasing in the Automotive market, here are some of the recent trends being experienced in the industry:

  • Continuous Light Weighting

Reducing overall car weight has been a long-term goal for R&D and manufacturing in the automotive industry.  Car manufacturers are looking for engineering and high-performance polymers to replace metal parts. Especially for EV makers, light weighting is critical to make fuel-efficient cars.

More applications in the automotive industry are shifting to difficult-to-process engineering and high-performance polymers. These polymers can be corrosive, abrasive, heat-sensitive, or require high process temperatures such as POM, filled polymers and PPSU, PEEK, etc.

  • Just in Time and Agile Production

Just-in-Time Manufacturing (JIT) was developed by Toyota and quickly popularized globally. The goal is to eliminate waste by streamlining the supply chain and manufacturing process. As stock levels are minimised, manufacturing must produce consistent high quality components that are free of defects.

However, Covid-19 exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains including the automotive industry.  Car makers have had to redesign their JIT manufacturing process. The aim is to build a more resilient supply chain, for example, Ford began to increase key components and material stock levels while also reducing risk by utilizing multiple suppliers.

An increasing level of inventory minimises supply chain disruption and increases the overall efficiency, but meanwhile, it also increases costs. Therefore, car makers are unlikely to completely replace just-in-time manufacturing.

High-quality standards and robust production have become even more important in Automotive during the pandemic era, with a flexible supply chain critical for long-term improvement.

As downstream suppliers, injection moulders and mould makers need to provide the most reliable products and stable production to stand out in this competitive market.

  • Premium cars segment is increasing

 According to a McKinsey report, consumers are increasingly attracted to premium vehicles by the stylishly designed interiors, advanced features and exceptional driving experience. In addition, with the rise of premium electric vehicles, electronic connectivity will be essential for high-end consumers.

The trend towards premium vehicles has generated increased profits for car OEM manufacturers. In 2017, this segment accounted for 13% of vehicle sales but 40% of profits. Due to the high profitability, car makers compete to attract consumers by improving cars’ performance and design.

This means that for high-end series car manufacturing, the standard of quality and aesthetics of plastic components are even more rigid.

  • Sustainability Drives Automotive Industry


Reduction of environmental impacts such as global warming is a growing trend effecting every industry. This can take the form of social conscious (what can I do?) or Government policy providing incentives (reduced tax, rebates) for those choosing to purchase an electric vehicle.​

Manufacturers are increasingly adopting (and promoting) their attempts to move to a circular economy approach (minimising waste), while car designers are researching ways to incorporate more recycled or bio-based resins into their car builds.

Governments are also enforcing tighter controls on car emissions with Europe, for example, imposing a  level of 95gm/CO2 per kilometer to avoid fines.

BMW recently launched the iVision Circular BMW concept car that is made entirely of recycled and recyclable materials while the VW ID Life (due in 2025) will have various sustainability credentials including recycled PET Roof liner, wood dashboard and seat surrounds and tyres made from bio-oil, natural rubber and rice husks.