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Lightweight Materials in Transportation

Lightweight transportation materials market sales forecast to total US$189Bn by 2020

Lightweight materials are projected to increase their share of total light vehicle materials content over the next five years under the combined impact of advances in materials technology, high fuel costs and more stringent government fuel economy standards. Lightweight materials will increase its share of the total materials content of autos and light trucks by 19% over the next five years.

The global market for lightweight materials used in transportation is expected to reach $109 billion and $188.7 billion in 2015 and 2020, respectively. During the forecast period (2015-2020), the market should register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6%. In terms of tonnage, market consumption should total 96.6 million tons in the end year, up from 70.3 million tons in 2015, reflecting a five-year CAGR of 6.6% in tonnage terms.

High-strength steel accounts for the largest percentage of total tons of lightweight materials consumed, followed by aluminum and plastics.

In value terms, plastics make up the largest market segment.

Lightweight materials are defined broadly as materials used in the fabrication of equipment to minimize weight. As used in this report, transportation equipment includes all motorized vehicles or craft used to convey people, animals or cargo between two points, except for vehicles/craft used exclusively for sports or recreation applications (e.g., glider aircraft and sailboats).

Lightweight materials, by reducing fuel consumption in the transportation sector, significantly lower emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants produced from burning fossil fuels. An estimated 75% of vehicle energy consumption is related to factors associated with weight. Reducing the weight of a vehicle component by using lightweight materials has a multiplier effect on overall vehicle weight, and hence, fuel use. As vehicle weight declines, tires and suspension can become lighter, and the loads imposed on the chassis are reduced, allowing a reduction in chassis weight.

Motor vehicles, particularly passenger cars and light trucks, make up by far the largest end-user segment. Shipbuilding, while far behind the motor vehicle industry in its consumption of lightweight materials, is the second-largest consumer of lightweight materials in both tonnage and value terms, while the aircraft industry ranks second in the value of the lightweight materials consumed.

Lightweight materials are projected to increase their share of total light vehicle materials content over the next five years under the combined impact of advances in materials technology, high fuel costs and more stringent government fuel economy standards. Influenced by these developments, lightweight materials' share of the total materials content of autos and light trucks produced globally should rise from 47.2% in 2015 to 66.5% by 2020.

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