Automotive OEM Coatings Market

By Tim Wright | March 7, 2008

While the automotive OEM market is level to slightly declining in the mature markets of North America and Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia-Pacific are experiencing healthy growth.

While the mature markets of North America, Western Europe and Japan own nearly all the automotive OEM coatings market in terms of value, their annual growth rates (AGR) remain relatively flat compared to other parts of the world.

The combined value of the world's auto OEM coatings markets, including North America, Western Europe, Japan, China, India, Eastern Europe, Australia and South America, Mexico included, totaled $8.971 billion in 2007, according to Chemark Consulting.

North America was valued at $2.65 billion with an AGR of 0.6% from 2006-07. Western Europe� was valued at $2.5 billion and showed 2.5% growth. Japan represented the third largest market and fastest growth rate of the three at $2.15 billion and 3.7% respectively.

Together these three markets represent $7.3 billion leaving the remaining� $1.671 billion in market share spread among the other regions mentioned above.

While China, India and Eastern Europe represent small dollar values compared to the leaders at $510 million, $261 million and $331 million respectively, their AGR's tell a much different story. �

China's posted double-digit growth at 11.5% followed by India at 8.2% and lastly Eastern Europe, led by Russia, at 5.5%. (See chart on next page.)

Mature OEM markets under pressure

Long term vehicle production in established markets� of North America, Western Europe and Japan is essentially flat while short term established markets are seeing a down turn as well, according to David Fischer, global marketing manager, DuPont OEM Automotive Coatings. "The emerging markets of Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific excluding Japan and Korea, and Latin America are the growth regions," he said. "Market share is shifting from large U.S.- and European-based manufacturers to those based in Asian countries including Japan, Korea, domestics in China and India.

"However the large U.S.- and European-based manufactures will continue to be a large and important group into the future," Fischer continued. "In these mature markets, volatile situations with respect to raw material prices and regulations such as REACH will continue to impact current and future formulation trends."

The challenges facing the auto OEM industry are typical of mature industries and lie in market back-pressure issues, according to industry consultant and Coatings World contributor Phil Phillips of Chemark. "The industrialized regions of the world are feeling the effects of their respective economic slowdowns influenced globally by the fact that the world is inextricably tied together," he said. "When one major region slows, they all are affected negatively to some degree. Such is the case with highly industrialized regions, particularly North America and Western Europe.

"Complicating the auto OEM industry further in North America and Western Europe is the fact that these regions have relatively expensive work forces with strong rigid unions," Phillips continued. "Their $80+/hour rate including benefits cost versus emerging giants like China, India and Eastern Europe at less than $15/hour is significant since the average impact per car unit is now approaching $1,800 right from the starting blocks.

"This cost difference between industrialized and emeriging regions is further leveraged when one considers the ultra-new plants with faster throughput rates in combination with orders of magnitude of on-line and design flexibility within the emerging giants versus the highly rigid and controlled unionized industrialized regions," Phillips said.

Add to this the acceleration of the cost of fuel which has spurred rapid design changes from larger to smaller fuel-efficient cars and trucks. "North America and Western Europe are much slower to change designs and bring these new units to market versus the Japanese, resulting in market share losses for the domestic auto makers in these regions. The lower unit sales in North America and Western Europe results in pushing back on all suppliers, including paints, coatings, adhesives and sealants, to lower prices and increase service without being compensater for the latter," Phillips explained.

"Ultimately, this is pushing the formulators who supply the coatings to this market into altering their historical roles within the auto OEM market as well as moving more assets into adjacent markets where the pressure is less and the margins are higher," Phillips added. "An example would be deemphasizing OEM and emphasizing auto after market. Another would be to move more assets into the tier supplier spot in the value chain where pressures on margins are not quite as severe as the OEM direct sale."

Paint makers look to emerging markets

Overall, OEM coatings manufacturers continue to face many challenges including raw material cost increases, which are directly correlated with rising oil prices. At the same time, automotive manufacturers are continually exerting pressure on suppliers to lower costs.

"Both OEMs in mature and emerging markets have come under increasing pressure to cut costs in order to compete," said Simon Cheung, market development manager, PPG Industries, Inc. "While OEMs in mature markets are striving to compete with OEMs in emerging markets, OEMs in emerging markets are attempting to preserve their low cost advantage over OEMs in mature markets.

"While the North American and Western European auto OEM coatings markets have been growing very slowly in recent years as a consequence of relatively flat vehicle production in those regions, indeed, the coatings markets in these regions is expected to be especially challenging since vehicle production is forecasted to decrease this year," Cheung continued. "On the other hand, China, India and other emerging regions continue to experience rapid market growth."

In Russia for example, although GDP growth is beginning to soften one of the country's major growth markets will be the rapidly growing automotive industry as foreign carmakers invest on Russian soil.

According to a report profiling the Russian paint industry released by Information Research, car output in Russia is expected to soar from 165,000 units in 2004 to 900,000 by 2010. As a result demand for automotive OEM coatings will multiply rapidly, possibly by as much as 30% per annum from its current level of approximately 50,000 tons.

At the same time, activity in India's automotive sector has heated up over the past year.

Korea Chemical Company� (KCC) is setting up base in Sriperumbudur near Chennai, close to the Hyundai Motors plant. Hyundai, which has been the largest client for Asian-PPG Industries-a joint venture between Asian Paints and PPG Industries-has already decided to shift 50% of its business to the Korean company.

"Hyundai has decided to do business with the KCC for its second line. We will now have to share the business with them," confirmed Ashwin Dani, vice chairman and managing director, Asian Paints.

Asian Paints, in turn, has partnered with Japanese paint company Dai Nippon Toryo (DNT) for a breakthrough with the Japanese auto company.

Currently, Asian PPG does very small volumes for Honda Motors in India. The company is also setting up its first facility in Sriperumbudur, to service Hyundai as well as tap the Mahindra-Renault-Nissan facility that is coming up near Chennai and the Mahindra-Renault plant in Maharashtra.

Japanese major Nippon Paints is also setting up its base both in Delhi and Chennai. According to industry insider, Nippon "is likely to grab a sizeable chunk of the OEM segment as Japanese carmakers like Suzuki, Honda and Toyota prefer doing business with Japanese companies. "While Kansai Nerolac Paints had a clear monopoly in this segment so far, it will now have to face stiff competition from Nippon," the insider added.

"There is definitely a possibility of international players affecting our business," said Ashok Saini, vice president, special projects, Kansai Nerolac. "However, it would be premature to measure the impact now."

Despite global players cashing in on the impending boom in the auto sector, paint companies in India are upbeat that they will be able to increase volume growth.

A constant influx of investments in the Asian automotive industry has benefited related industries such as automotive paints.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the auto OEM coatings market in Asia has reported rapid growth in the last five years aided by the favorable economic growth, globalization of the automotive industry and consolidation in the paint industry.

Analysts said the automotive coatings market and regulatory standards are playing a pivotal role in the growth of the market. Current growth levels are expected to continue with China driving the majority of the market's growth.

"Globalization of the automotive industry has led to consolidation in the coatings industry, as Western manufacturers have formed alliances with the Asian manufacturers to serve their customers better," said D. Ashwin Kumar, senior research analyst of chemicals, materials and food at Frost & Sullivan. "This consolidation has led to rapid advancements in coating technologies and has created a solid platform for growth in the automotive industry."

Kumar said sustained growth in the Chinese, Indian and Thai automotive industry is expected to augur well for the coatings market. Manufacturers who invest in environmentally friendly coating products are expected to emerge as winners.

"It's more important for established OEM's to compete 'in' emerging markets rather than 'with' emerging markets," said Fischer. "The current focus and capacity in emerging markets is geared towards servicing local markets. It will be many years before emerging market producers export and compete with established OEMs in the established markets.

"To compete in emerging markets, many established OEMs are bringing a new value proposition to the new middle and upper class in these countries, which drives the need for world standards," Fischer continued. "Emerging markets are no longer simply a market for low cost, utilitarian vehicles. This growing demand for world-class quality is creating the opportunity to export technology from established markets to emerging markets and includes automotive paint. To be competitive and stay ahead, technology know-how and production must be transferred to the emerging market regions."

Both OEMs in mature and emerging markets have come under increasing pressure to cut costs in order to compete.� While OEMs in mature markets are striving to compete with OEMs in emerging markets, OEMs in emerging markets are attempting to preserve their low cost advantage over OEMs in mature markets.

In the mature markets, there has been an increased demand for more environmentally responsible technologies.� Companies such as PPG have been focused on delivering coatings solutions that help automakers reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy consumption, decrease waste generation and conserve water usage. "Moreover, there has been a growing trend toward customization, as OEMs have sought to differentiate their product offerings in an increasingly crowded marketplace," said Cheung. "This has led to the ongoing development of specialty OEM coatings such as low gloss coatings and special effect coatings that have greater resonance with consumers.

"In the emerging markets, greater emphasis has been placed on improving product quality," Cheung continued. "As such, it has become incumbent upon coatings manufacturers to engender the efficient transfer of technology expertise to emerging regions.

To participate in industry growth in the future, automotive coatings companies must have capability in the emerging regions, stated Fischer. "This includes an investment in infrastructure and the transfer of technology and people. To spread risk, it is essential to have a broad portfolio of customers and proper investments in product development, approvals and relationship building. In order for this to happen it is essential to achieve productivity in established markets to fund expansion into emerging markets, offset inflation and maintain profitability when the established markets are not expanding. It is also important to manage change which may be required due to new legislation."

"Those coatings companies truly devoted and committed to the auto OEM market must be global in supply and regional in attitude. While this sounds trite, it is something they must do," said Phillips. "For example, they will have to supply Ford in every corner of the globe. They must be omnipresent across all boundaries and become both the maintainer and the innovator in side-by-side design capabilities within each of the OEM's engineering and design studios. Paint cannot be allowed to slip any further into the commodity bin in the minds of the OEM designer. Paint formulators needs to show how important a proactive relationship is with the designers."


German paint maker selects DuPont EcoConcept

DuPont EcoConcept is a patented finishing system that allows automotive manufacturers to eliminate an entire coat in the painting process.� EcoConcept reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves energy and time.
Bollig & Kemper, a German manufacturer of coatings for the European auto industry, has signed a license agreement for DuPont EcoConcept, a patented coatings technology that enables auto manufacturers to realize reductions in energy use, environmental emissions and capital costs. Under the license agreement, the Cologne-based paint maker will manufacture and sell water-based basecoats for use in the EcoConcept process at automotive manufacturing plants in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

DuPont EcoConcept is a patented finishing system that allows automotive manufacturers to eliminate an entire coat in the painting process. EcoConcept technology was recognized in 2007 when the auto industry publication Automotive News presented DuPont with a PACE Award, the highest honor in a competition staged annually by the publication.

"The global automotive industry has never been as competitive as it is today, so every cost advantage is vital," said Marty McQuade, vice president and general manager, DuPont Automotive Systems. "This technology offers multiple benefits, providing auto manufacturers with a competitive advantage by delivering identifiable, measurable and meaningful cost and environmental savings."

EcoConcept eliminates one complete coating layer, the primer-surfacer, and combines it into a single environmentally compliant water-based basecoat. As a result, a spray booth and curing oven are eliminated from the auto production line.

Specifically, the technology reduces energy consumption and solvent emissions related to the painting process by approximately 25%. Carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by 45-50 kilograms per vehicle built. The combination of two coats into one reduces production time and saves on the cost of equipment needed for the conventional three-coat process.

DuPont EcoConcept technology currently is used at two Volkswagen plants in Mexico and Spain. Some 200,000 cars have been produced using the process.


Potential of automotive-related coatings in China

Information Research (IRL) has published a new study covering the Chinese industrial coatings sector, entitled "Potential of Automotive-Related Coatings in China." This new study provides a characterization of the Chinese industry and markets for automotive OEM coatings, refinishes, powder coatings and plastic finishes.

Chinese vehicle production more than doubled over the period 2001-2005 but vehicle ownership in China has not quite managed to accomplish the same feat. The chart below illustrates current and projected vehicle ownership in China.

Future growth in the Chinese automotive sector will be influenced by government initiatives on fuel consumption, which will prompt replacement of vehicles; increasingly liberal currency and credit policies; popularity of small-capacity vehicles; and rising affordability as low-end vehicles are put within the grasp of more of the population.

The automotive sector is also the second largest consumer of coatings for plastics in China, whose spread of applications is best illustrated in the chart below.

More info: Information Research, Terry Knowles; E-mail: tknowles@brg.co.uk.