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23. Sep 2020 | Application Areas

Evolving automotive coatings market creates new coatings demands

Vanessa Bauersachs

The automotive industry is changing. BASF’s coatings division’s Sean McKeon, vice president of global key account management, and David Cranfill, technical director for OEMs, share their views on how the latest trends will affect automotive coatings systems.
Interview: Evolving automotive coatings market creates new coatings demands.
Source: karlandreasgross –

What are the current trends in automotive coatings?

Sean McKeon: The automotive coatings market is continually evolving. We have to innovate our design, application, and performance to stay ahead of the curve. BASF is moving beyond paint to the entire spectrum of surface solutions. We treat various types of surfaces that require specific properties: we colour them, we protect them, and we make them functional. Functional coatings will be an important enabler as the industry adopts driver-assist and autonomous driving technologies.

For colour and design, BASF expects automakers to ask for more deeply saturated colours – like rich blues – to help them claim their place in the market. Additionally, coatings will need to resist corrosion more than ever, while reducing overall waste and cost. We’re going to continue to see more of a mixed substrate system: more aluminium, carbon fibre, etc. As automakers change their products, coatings will have to adapt.                                                  


How will the latest societal developments, i.e. autonomous driving, shared driving, etc., influence automotive coatings?

David Cranfill: As companies explore connected autonomous vehicles and new alternative powertrains, coatings need to adapt. BASF’s surface solutions will give those vehicle surfaces new functions. Coatings will have to reflect LiDAR and RADAR and interact seamlessly with various autonomous sensors, adding to the reliability of the entire transportation eco-system.

The shift toward alternative electric powertrains and away from fossil fuels puts the focus on new technology, the environment, and sustainability. Sustainability is a value that BASF shares with its business partners. Coatings will have to handle the heat management requirements around batteries and electric motors. At the same time, external coatings with infrared-reflective pigments will keep the cabin cooler to reduce the need for extra energy to power air conditioning. That lets the car go farther on a single charge.

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