Automotive Window & Exterior Sealing Systems
Design, technology and industry drivers
The automotive greenhouse is about to receive a new technological shove similar to the moves in body structures and infotainment. The twin engineering concerns of mass and noise reduction will continue to drive investments. Desires for exciting feature-add may drive the development of functional glazing such as illumination. Ongoing reshuffling within the supply base continues to result in vehicle greenhouse suppliers venturing into unfamiliar product/market areas. A number of drivers are at work:
- Weatherstrip: The cost position of thermoplastic compounds is a thorny issue. The cost advantage is supplier-dependent. Thermoplastic seals are expected to find increased use in midrange/upper vehicles for mass reduction.
- Plastic Windows: The interest in polycarbonate windows hangs on, still driven by the weight save and styling advantages, but hindered by the need for long-term durability of hard coats for weatherability and abrasion resistance.
- Brightwork: Touch, craftsmanship and mass reduction are continuing to drive metal selection for brightwork, especially in upper range vehicles.
- Customer Value: Headlamps and tail lights are already a vigorous stylistic LED battleground among rival brands. The use of OLED exterior coatings on glazings could provide the consumer a level of electronic individuality in a vehicle, never seen before.
- Supply Base: Notable weatherstrip acquisitions and closures are causing more uncertainty in the supply base, and several more are possible. The Ruia Group’s venture into the European sealing business was extremely short-lived, while CooperStandard made the acquisition of American thermoplastic supplier Jyco. Meanwhile glass suppliers in China have extended their manufacturing portfolio, venturing into weatherstrip modules and championing IR reflective glass.
OEM planners and suppliers’ capital investment chiefs must grapple with the above concerns. High risk investments in future technologies require increasingly complicated business agreements between suppliers and OEM legal, planning and engineering departments. ITB’s new report will dissect the commercial and technical forces that are driving the greenhouse, and The ITB Group will provide the seeds of insight to understand the technical, economic and market evolution driving the window and sealing industry.