According to Phil Phillips, president and managing director of Chemark Consulting Group, experts like LMC Automotive have raised forecasts from 17.2 million units to 17.4 million units. This is a three percent growth from the 2014 production level of 16.9 million units.
“Investment in the region will increase overall capacity by nearly 500,000 units, and, coupled with strong North American vehicle demand, a more positive production outlook is expected,” Phillips said. “Comparing 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, we see almost a 13 percent average growth rate over this time period.”
Phillips noted that it is automotive and truck production – not sales – that is the basis for forecasting coatings use and growth rate. “Obviously, sales of these units are important to track but coatings are used when a vehicle unit is produced, and that’s what we must watch.”
The financials affecting automotive/truck demand fall along the following 10 macro and consumer elements: disposable income, unemployment, the housing market, the stock market, fuel prices, credit availability, vehicle equity, vehicle price, incentive actions, and product activity.
“We have others forecasting the same rate or better going forward, indicating that North America’s automotive industry is in good shape,” Phillips said. “The value chains of activity (coatings, et al) supplying it have a very healthy segment to play in.”
Chemark estimates the North American OEM automotive/truck coatings market to be valued at $2.4 billion USD. “This figure is as the coating formulators sells its coatings directly to the OEM plants for use in applying electro-coat primers; sandable primers; base color coating and finally the clear topcoat systems. It does not include the tier suppliers who make and coat under hood and body parts ($0.390 billion) as well as the job shop custom coaters ($0.145 billion) who receive parts from the tier part manufacturers and coat to specification,” Phillips said.
A total North American value of $2.835 billion USD is consumed. The major formulators who supply over 80 percent of the North American OEM plants and key tier fabricators are: PPG, Axalta, AkzoNobel and BASF. Others who supply some OEM but mainly, tier manufacturers are: Sherwin-Williams, Wörwag, Red Spot, Nippon Paint and United Paint.
According to Chris Toomey, BASF’s senior vice president of Coatings Solutions, North America, his company sees growth due to increased automaking.
“When the automakers build more vehicles, BASF sells more coatings products,” Tommey said. “We also see continued growth outside that based on new technologies we’re developing and our quality products.”
Toomey said that BASF has strengthened its local presence in China with its latest plant for automotive OEM coatings in Shanghai.
“In addition, we’re currently building another plant that produces binders, which will start production in the second half of 2015,” Toomey said. “In the future, we will continue to invest in research and development, application technology and production capacities in emerging markets. In the field of automotive refinish, we opened the first training center for automotive refinish paint in Johannesburg.”
In terms of the latest trends and technologies driving the market, Toomey said that there are three. “One is process improvement to increase the efficiency in the application of the different paint layers. BASF pioneered the integrated process that eliminates one of the baking steps for OEMs. The second is product technology. Designers want to differentiate with color. Our color designers work with the OEMs to develop attractive and unique colors. The third driver is lightweighting. Different substrates require adjustments to the coating layers to ensure proper adhesion etc.,” he said.
Every year, BASF’s global color design team predicts future color trends. The latest trend show, Toomey said, which was entitled Under the Radar, featured five trends for North America that will debut on cars in the next two to three years. Some of those colors are a light blue, a rich orange and a soft green.
Regarding coating performance, Toomey said that color is a big part of the car design. “Automakers want high performing, quality and reliable coatings to help attract buyers to their brands. BASF continually works to improve efficiency and sustainability into the coatings material and processes,” he said.
Finally, Toomey said that BASF’s research and development is built around color performance, basecoats and clearcoats and waterborne processes. “We have best-in-class products and we continue to push the envelope and look to improve what are already strong products,” Toomey concluded.
Cindy Niekamp, senior vice president of Automotive Coatings at PPG, said that PPG’s automotive OEM coatings business continues to perform well, growing above market rates.
“In the fourth quarter, the business delivered solid volume growth,” Niekamp said. “In 2014 overall, PPG’s automotive OEM coatings business was strong in North America and Asia Pacific and we experienced growth in Europe as well. Long term, the market for automotive OEM coatings is expected to continue to grow nicely, likely around four to five percent, led by build growth in Asia and Latin America. Due to our broad global footprint, we expect to continue to leverage these positive economic trends for continued growth in the automotive OEM coatings.”
Niekamp added that PPG has benefited from being well-positioned in China and other emerging regions, where it has taken advantage of customers building new greenfield plants, and converting to newer paint shop technologies. “PPG’s position as a leader in many of these technologies has allowed us to grow in high growth countries with some of the most successful car makers,” she said.
“In addition to our technology, we have continued to localize production and services in China and emerging regions. For example, our manufacturing facility in Tianjin, China has become the largest volume paint plant in PPG globally. And, we continue to expand paint and resin capacity in China. In 2014, we announced investments in facilities in San Juan del Rio, Mexico and Sumare, Sao Paulo, Brazil that will allow us to meet increased demand for automotive coatings in those regions.”
Niekamp added that PPG sees a variety of trends for the future. “One example is the demand for color. Color science has come a long way, and coatings offers customers a way to differentiate themselves in a meaningful way,” she said.
“Another key driver for research and development investment is energy. As automakers continue to look for innovative ways to enhance fuel efficiency, PPG’s products help customers make lightweight vehicles that meet environmental requirements. OEMs are using more lightweight metals for auto bodies and auto body components (such as the new Ford F150). PPG works in partnership with our customers to offer solutions that allow their paint shops to adapt to this more complex environment, while ensuring continued quality and colorful finishes. We also work with them to reduce energy costs in their energy-intensive paint shop processes.”
To conserve water use, the paint shop has become a focal point for auto manufacturers. PPG is launching its Green Logic Matrix and Green Logic Ultimate in 2015. The system enabled by GreenLogic Matrix uses about 15,000 gallons to fill compared with 200,000 gallons used in a traditional system. GreenLogic Ultimate contains an optimized blend of polymers, three of which are derived from plant materials. In addition, the company’s ZIRCOBOND pretreatment cut water use, waste and energy costs – it can save the average North American assembly plant 16 million gallons of water annually, Niekamp said. In addition to the GreenLogic products, PPG’s Enviro-Prime 7000 hyper-throwpower electrocoat also can save on average 30 percent of the electricity and water used in the typical electrocoat process.
Niekamp said that white continues to be the most popular car color manufactured globally in 2014, car manufacturers across the world are continually seeking new ways to create a unique appearance for models and vehicle brands. “Today, automakers can choose from a broad array of colors as well as a wide assortment of variations of conservative hues such as white, silver, black and gray, and distinct effects such as micas, glass flakes, fine bright aluminum and hue-shifting pigments,” she said.
For 2015 models, PPG believes drivers will see an increase in natural tones such as coppers, oranges and browns. New models also may be influenced by metal tones such as bronze, pewter and rose gold, which have had a significant influence across fashion, jewelry, furniture and industrial design in recent years. In addition, consumers will have access to the same high-definition experience they now readily consume across entertainment platforms, with access to “high-depth” color – a deeper, richer version of color – especially in 2015 models that offer blues, reds and yellows.
Steve Markevich, Axalta’s senior vice president and president OEM, said that global automotive production has grown by three to four percent in the last two years, and the impact of steady global growth provides excellent market conditions for Axalta’s continued investment in technology and capability.
“However, the growth has not been uniform worldwide,” Markevich said. “Markets in China and NAFTA have seen significant gains while South America and Europe have had recent challenges. As a global supplier and thus able to weather local economic fluctuations, Axalta has benefited from the growth in automotive production which overall has been running slightly ahead of global GDP. The net effect has been and will likely continue to be a need for more paint.”
Markevich said that Axalta is investing in many markets to support growth with due emphasis on China. “We recently had the grand opening of our new waterborne manufacturing facility at our operations center in Shanghai. In December, we opened a new OEM research and development lab that is adjacent to the Shanghai facility. In addition to these hard assets, we have been building our team and aligning our technologies to support growth and our customers. At the same time, we are increasing our resin capabilities in Mexico, our coatings capacity in Brazil and expanding our waterborne production capacity in Germany to continue to meet the demands in our global markets,” he said.
There are five mega trends that are impacting coatings, Markevich said.
The first is the car buyer’s desire for color options and improved appearance. “A vehicle remains an emotional purchase for many car buyers and this drives a desire for a range of options and the following of trends,” he said. “Many consumers will pay extra money or choose a car make and model to get the color and effect that they desire. The packaging and marketing of color and appearance creates an opportunity for our OEM customers to stand out and to capture share or improve margins in a very competitive environment. Axalta designs color options that will best fit the need of consumer tastes and the OEM branding strategies designed to reach car buyers.”
Productivity is the second trend, Markevich said. The automotive market is fiercely competitive. “Customers are continually looking for ways to reduce costs. The paint shop operation is one of the largest users of energy and capital in the manufacturing process. As a result, our OEM customers are seeking innovation in coatings technology that can help reduce cost,” he said.
The third trend we see is globalization. OEMs are increasingly looking for global solutions, Markevich added. The philosophy is to engineer the product and process once and replicate it throughout the world. This standardization improves the efficiency and quality of product launches and ongoing operations, many of which are very far from the home office.
“The continued evolution of emerging markets remains a persistent consistent trend,” he said. “Emerging markets are leading GDP and GDP per capita growth. China, India, South America and the ASEAN countries continue to show great potential. Paint process capabilities and applications are still developing. To benefit from the growth, Axalta‘s strategy is to continue to invest and grow capability with global support as these markets evolve.
“Regulation is the final trend that affects everything we do. The automotive industry is affected by many regulations. As a coatings supplier, regulations regarding hazardous substances and volatile organic content directly impact the materials that we use to produce coatings.
“Regulations governing vehicle emissions indirectly impact coatings suppliers as OEMs consider alternative materials and production methods to increase the miles per gallon and reduce the environmental impact of operating a vehicle. One result, for example, is the increased use of lightweight plastic and composite materials that require new paint formulations which Axalta offers,” he said.
Axalta has tracked color and effect over time in its annual Global Color Popularity Reports, and over time, Markevich has noticed a few interesting trends. While regional differences continue, he said Axalta is seeing more global alignment in consumer preference. Neutral colors continue to dominate although they are giving ground to more color and chromatic versions. Both red and blue also have seen increases globally while silver continues to decline.
“As a result of these trends, we’ve identified Radiant Red as the 2015 automotive color of the year in North America,” he said.
In terms of coating performance, Axalta customers are looking for consistency and quality in the products we supply.
“The automotive coating process is a complex, highly automated system,” he said.
“It is not uncommon to produce 60 or more painted vehicles an hour. The ability to maintain these high levels of production without interruption is critical to our customers’ success. The final painted vehicle must meet customer expectations for paint quality, be free of defects, have a great appearance and a harmonious color match across all parts including those painted at other locations and attach during final assembly. Finally, as the average age of vehicles on the road continues to increase, the coatings are expected to provide protection and beauty for the life of the vehicle.”
Markevich said that his R&D team is focused on addressing trends, color brilliance, and sustainability. “As a result, our research covers a wide range from features that consumers are demanding to highly productive systems to meet the need for continuous improvement. At the same time, we are responding to the changing regulatory environment.
“We have introduced our Vermeera technology line of premium effect and high chromatic colors to provide our customers and their car buyers with a new level of elegance and excitement. Our next generation AquaEC electrocoat and our new topcoats are targeted to meet the requirements of ever-increasing regulations as well as OEM specifications that call for more productive coatings and their ability to work with advanced materials such as carbon fiber reinforced components,” he said.
A Bobby Alloway-built car painted with PPG Industries automotive refinish products won the 2015 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) award at the Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS), Jan. 23-25 at the Pomona Fairplex in California. The striking 1933 roadster, owned by Larry Olson of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was finished by Alloway and drew approval from the show judges and crowd alike. The AMBR, an 8-foot-tall trophy, is awarded annually and regarded as the ultimate recognition of a roadster-style hot rod. It was Alloway’s second time winning the prestigious award; his first was in 2003. Alloway also won Best Rod of the GNRS this year with a 1937 Chevrolet coupe that was in the top 10 in the Builder’s Challenge at SEMA this past November.
The GNRS started in 1950 and is the longest-running indoor car show in the world. This year, 18 competitors vied for the AMBR award. Alloway’s winning entry featured his signature black finish embellished with contrasting blazing-orange flames running nearly the entire length of the roadster’s body. Alloway uses PPG products exclusively, and he achieved the car’s outstanding look using Deltron DBU 9700 Basecoat and DCU 2002 Concept Clearcoat.
Alloway, called the “master of black” because his distinctive cars are almost always painted black, has been building street rods since 1978. His shop, Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop in Louisville, Tennessee, opened in 1991 and has consistently turned out award-winning vehicles. He is well-known for cars that feature a commanding, aggressive look obtained through a combination of color, proportion, stance and power.
Along with winning the AMBR and Best Rod honors, Alloway was inducted into the GNRS Roadster Hall of Fame during the show. The Hall of Fame was established in 1960 to recognize “outstanding pioneers in the creative car building sport.” Alloway’s entry was based on his illustrious career building cars that have earned significant awards. In addition to his two AMBR awards, Alloway’s cars have won the Goodguys Street Rod and Street Machine of the Year awards, the highly-prized Ridler trophy and others. He also has been welcomed into the National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame and honored as Detroit Autorama Builder of the Year.
Other builders who won big at the GNRS included Randy Borchering of Painthouse in Cypress, Texas, and Dave Kindig of Kindig-It Design in Salt Lake City. Borchering’s two-toned 1947 Hudson painted in his custom Bad, Bad Leroy Brown and Green Acres Pearl earned First in Class, Outstanding Paint and Outstanding Display accolades. “Winning these awards was awesome,” Borchering said. “Winning here is extremely gratifying.”
Borchering used Deltron DP90LV Epoxy Primer, Vibrance Collection VP2100 Polyester Primer, Deltron Basecoat and Global Refinish System D8152 Clearcoat to achieve award-worthy results. Borchering has used PPG products for 25 years. Painthouse has been building custom cars for nearly 10 years and has earned a reputation for providing outstanding paint jobs.
Dave Kindig scored with a 1934 Dodge and a 1950 Phantom Fleetside. The Dodge took home First in Class, Outstanding Paint, Outstanding Interior and Outstanding Display awards. The car is painted a custom PPG mix called Dark Desert Sage, which was created using Envirobase High Performance Basecoat and Global Refinish System D8188 Clearcoat. The Phantom Fleetside won the 2015 Al Slonaker Award for being the most innovative vehicle at the show. Its white-over-red paint scheme was also achieved using Envirobase High Performance Basecoat and Global Refinish System D8188 Clearcoat.
”From solvent to water, our customers make our paint shine,” said John Parran, PPG marketing director, automotive refinish. ”We’re proud of our products, but we’re even more impressed by what our customers can do with them. We congratulate these winners on jobs well done and look forward to what they dream up next.”