Automotive foams are polymer foams manufactured by combining two phases, gas phase and solid phase to develop foams. This process results in development of foam incorporated with either air bubbles or air tunnels which are either closed cell structure or open cell structure. Foams with open cells are flexible while foams with closed cells are rigid. Chemical or physical gas is used as a blowing agent in the manufacturing of automotive foams. All the polymer foams are produced using various methods such as extrusion, slab-stock and moulding. Polymer foams are used in automotive industry, packaging industry, construction, furniture and other industries. China’s automotive foams market is categorized based on type of material such as Polyurethane, Polyolefin, Styrenic, Polyvinyl chloride, Phenolic, Melamine, starch foams, biodegradable foams and others. Automotive foams are utilized in manufacturing industries such as instrument panels, seating, door panels, headliners, water shields, gaskets, seals, Noise-Vibration and Harshness (NVH) solutions and others. Automotive foams are used in automobiles such as Compact Passenger Cars, Mid-sized Passenger Cars, Premium Passenger Cars, Luxury Passenger Cars, Light Commercial Vehicles, Heavy Commercial Vehicles, and Two-Wheeler.
The major factors driving China’s automotive foams market are low density foam products, weight reduction characteristics and cost effectiveness. Automotive foams are used as optimal insulators with low heat transfer properties, flexibility and softness in automotive foams provide extra comfort to the passengers, growing consumer preference for polymer foams in vehicles and manufacturer’s approval towards automotive foam products in commercial vehicle are the other factors driving the demand for automotive foams in China.
According to the study “China Automotive Foam Industry Situation and Prospects Research report”, China’s automotive foams market faces major market challenges such as waste disposal, flammability, recyclability and adverse effects of blowing agents on the environment which are directly hampering the growth of the market. The leading players in the manufacture of automotive foams are Armacell, BASF SE, Johnson Controls, Woodbridge Foam Corporation, The DOW Chemical Company, Lear Corporation, Bridgestone Corporation, Recticel, Vitafoam, Saint-Gobain and Rogers Corporation.
The increasing consumer’s disposable income and the rising trend of urbanization in China have witnessed a significant growth in automobile industry and automotive foam products. China is the leading consumer of automotive foams across the world due to the rapid growth in the manufacture of heavy commercial vehicle and passenger cars in the automotive industry. An automobile per household has become a necessity and status symbol in the society due to modernization which is driving the automobile market and the automotive foam market. Majority of the polyurethane foams are used for seats in the automobiles due to their excellent features such as ease of installation, minimal weight, fire resistance, thermal resistance, and low cost. It was observed that there is a huge demand for polyurethane foam in China compared to the other variants of foams and polyurethane foam is expected to remain on the top over the next few years.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications