How electric and self-driving cars will change the automotive coatings market

The automotive industry is changing. Electric cars, self-driving vehicles and more. This is, of course, also affecting the coatings industry. We spoke to two experts about the coming challenges.

Self-driving -

The impact of self-driving and electric cars is not only technological. According to Ralf Otte, Head of Marketing Automotive at BASF Coatings, sees also design aspects playing a major role. “Some automotive producers will distinguish between electric and conventional cars when it comes to car colours, with each trend influencing the colour palette of the car, says Otte. Regarding self-driving cars Otte states, that “the interior appeal and functionality could become even more and more important.”

More lightweight materials

Ralf Otte BASF Coatings

Dr Ralf Otte, Head of Marketing Automotive at BASF Coatings Europe.

Electric cars will also utilise more lightweight materials to extend the traveling range. “This has a significant impact on OEM coating processes, as the baking temperature of coatings needs to be reduced, due to the temperature sensitivity of the plastic substrates”, says Markus Mechtel, Head of Marketing OEM Coatings EMEA at Covestro.

This is already affecting the industry. “OEMs are already utilizing multi-substrate car body construction to improve vehicle efficiency”, says Ralf Otte.

Reducing carbon footprint

Mechtel Covestro

Markus Mechtel, Head of Marketing OEM Coatings EMEA at Covestro

Another major trend in automotive coatings is sustainability. “Due to further advances in electric mobility and renewable energy sources, we expect a growing demand for a reduction in carbon footprint, such as can be achieved with, for example, bio-based coating raw materials”, says Markus Mechtel.

His employer Covestro has already reacted to this trend and developed a bio-based hardener for automotive polyurethane coatings. A first clear coat has already been developed by BASFs coating devision and applied on an Audi Q2 under near series conditions.

Besides the standard answer lower VOCs Ralf Otte from BASF says “we see a stronger tendency towards low bake processes as drying ovens are one of the most energy consuming parts in the entire paint process.”

This article is based on the Expert Voices series from the European Coatings Journal 9/2017. The complete interview with additional information can be found in in the online library.  

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