Jean-Marie Greindl: For PPG overall, 2014 has been strong through three quarters. The third quarter saw net global sales of $3.94 billion for our entire business, up four percent versus the previous year. PPG’s regional earnings expansion was largest in Europe, which advanced 17 percent despite the uneven regional economic performance. Automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) coatings grew by high-single-digit percentages, with corresponding growth in all major regions and exceeding the global industry growth rate of about 3.5 percent.
CW: What regions offer the most opportunity for growth for auto OEM coatings?
Greindl: Our results have shown significant growth in China, which as the world’s largest market offers us the greatest opportunity for growth in the auto OEM coatings industry. Both North American and European regions saw auto OEM coatings production grow by low-to-mid single digit percentages.
CW: What specific technologies/products does PPG offer to the auto OEM market that sets it apart from the competition?
Greindl: As automotive manufacturers incorporate lighter metals into vehicles to make them more fuel efficient, PPG is developing its ZIRCOBOND pre-treatment systems. The product reduces the formation of sludge by-products by at least 80 percent compared to conventional zinc-phosphate-based pre-treatment systems. In the past three years, PPG has installed 97 ZIRCOBOND pre-treatment lines around the world, plus 12 additional lines in automotive plants. The ZIRCOBOND pre-treatment system also consumes less heat than zinc-phosphate lines, which can enhance energy and cost savings. In addition to this, ZIRCOBOND can save the average assembly plant 16 million gallons of water per year. For general products, we launch 400 colors every year with innovative properties and effects.
CW: What new technologies is PPG working to launch into the auto OEM market (for example: self-healing coatings, self-cleaning coatings and other smart coatings)?
Greindl: There are new materials that PPG is using and developing in response to developments in vehicle manufacturing, and that can help address sustainability and cost concerns in the manufacturing process.
PPG has also introduced new manufacturing processes to enable increased cost efficiency for automotive manufacturers, as 65-70 percent of all energy used in the auto manufacturing process occurs in the paint shop. Our new waterborne “B1:B2” process reduces both the manufacturing footprint and energy consumption as it removes the baking phase of a typical paint process.
CW: What is PPG’s plan for growth in 2015 and beyond?
Greindl: For EMEA, we will further strengthen our presence in Central Europe. The Middle East is also growing and Africa and Turkey offer many growth opportunities for us. The paint market is still very fragmented so there are growth opportunities in developing regions, but also in acquiring technological know-how.
The industry is constantly changing and it is being driven by the manufacturers. As a result, PPG always needs to be a step ahead because when the manufacturers want it, we need to have it ready for them to use.