Despite a weak economic situation and high pricing pressure, the use of natural fibres in the German automotive industry could well stand its ground in 2003 and even increase in some sectors, as revealed by nova-Institute`s current market survey. The use of composites equipped with the reinforcing fibres flax, hemp, jute, kenaf and sisal increased by almost 5% to 45,000 tons from 2002 to 2003. These materials are mainly used in interior door panelings and boot case linings in medium-class and luxury class passenger cars, being characterized by a high mechanical load capacity and a simultaneously low weight.
Wood fibre composites amounted to 36,000 tons in 2003 and reprocessed cotton reinforced materials to 79,000 tons, the latter particularly used in lorry driver`s cabs.
Hence all natural fibre reinforced composites together amount to 160,000 tons, 88,000 tons of which accounting for natural fibres and 72,000 tons for thermoset (duroplast) and thermoplast plastics. Accordingly approx. 16 kg of natural fibres are used per vehicle, calculated on a basis of 5.5 million vehicles produced in Germany in 2003. Further natural fibres are used for the purpose of automotive insulation and seat upholstery.
For the first time a new processing technology made its way into series production in 2003: natural fibre injection moulding with polypropylene matrix. Experts are considering this technology as sleeping giant, because of its mechanical properties, density and prices – particularly beyond the automotive sector. This is also revealed by a current survey which has been conducted by nova-Institute for the German working committee reinforced plastics / “AVK-TV” (www.avk-tv.de).
A free short version of the market study as well as both full studies are available in the internet at www.nachwachsende-rohstoffe.info/pdf, there you will also find further information on both studies.
(1) Market study
Use of natural fibres in the German automotive production 1996 till 2003; nova-Institute Hürth, September of 2004.
Price of the PDF file: 50 € plus 16% VAT.
(2) PP-NF Study
Market maturity of PP-NF injection moulding. Overview of the PP-NF injection moulding technology and its properties. On behalf of AVK-TV e.V.; nova-Institute Hürth, September of 2004.
Price of the PDF file: 125 € plus 16% VAT.
“nova-Institut GmbH (www.nova-institut.de & www.nachwachsende-rohstoffe.info):
Being in existence since 1995, nova-Institute has specialized in market studies on the topic of renewable resources and yearly publishes data on the use of natural fibres in the automotive industry.
Source: Press release from nova-Institute of Oct. 26, 2004.