Continuous adoption of newer technologies, rising disposable income and growing consolidation of used vehicle market are some of the prime factors for automotive refinish coatings market growth. Allied Market Research cited increasing road accidents, vehicle customization – especially in China, India and Brazil – and the growing trend of recreational vehicles as contributing to overall market growth. However, environmental issues related to solventborne refinish coatings and price volatility of raw materials are factors that could hinder the growth of the global automotive refinish coatings market.
Within different product categories, the basecoat refinish coating segment is predicted to remain the largest market with approximately 33.0 percent revenue in 2014. Polyurethane would be the largest resin segment, both in terms of volume and revenue, in 2014. The key reason driving the growth of the polyurethane segment is its characteristic as a foam that assists manufacturers to make automotive seating, which can be assembled, disassembled and recycled.
Growth by Region
The Asia Pacific and North American regions collectively held approximately 62 percent of the overall automotive refinish coatings market revenue in 2014, according to Allied Market Research. By segment, waterborne coatings are expected to grow at the fastest rate. In 2014, base coat and clearcoat collectively accounted for more than half of the overall refinish coatings market revenue.
“Despite a challenging business environment in key regions, refinish business is experiencing steady growth from an overall perspective,” said John Outcalt, PPG vice president, Global Refinish. “In Asia Pacific growth is slowing somewhat yet remains strong, led by China, India and Australia. Growth is strong in Central and Eastern Europe, aided by a recovering economy in Western Europe. With the U.S. economy on the rebound and miles driven returning to their pre-recession levels, PPG Refinish is experiencing increased growth in its collision business, despite the increased rate of “totals” and expansion of accident avoidance technology. We’re also seeing significant growth in commercial refinish, due in part to PPG’s strategic transition from a diversified portfolio offering to a concentrated focus on coatings.”
“In North America, driven by enhanced safety features of new vehicles, we anticipate a continued slowdown of market volume,” said Paul Whittleston, vice president, Automotive Refinish and Industrial Coatings North America at BASF. “However, safety features also create opportunities for collision repair experts. For example, we see an increase in the need for small damage repair and the requirement for even more training of technicians to be able to perform the work efficiently and effectively.”
In EMEA, Whittleston noted that consolidation is taking place reducing the number of bodyshops that are now more professional and able to meet the needs of insurance companies and work providers for high quality repairs more quickly. “Bodyshops favor partners that help them meet these needs by providing high quality paint with efficient application processes accompanied by process consultancy.”
Asia Pacific currently leads the global automotive refinish coatings market. Driving growth of the Asia-Pacific market is increasing car parc, rising purchasing power and rise in number of road accidents. Asia-Pacific will continue to lead the market during the forecast period due to rising demand of vehicle customization.
“Collision centers in Asia-Pacific are focusing on becoming better businesses by modernizing their operations, often with the consultation of multi-national paint suppliers,” Whittleston added.
There are many factors impacting the auto refinish market today, such as safety features on vehicles, collision repair center consolidation, pressure from insurance for faster cycle time and lack of skilled professionals.
“I would like to focus on one key challenge that is going to continue to increase in relevance and is important to BASF,” said Whittleston. “That challenge is the pressure on distribution. Distributors are really feeling the pressure from increased discounts and collision repair center expectations to maintain an equivalent service level at a lower price. At BASF we are focused on ensuring that our distribution partners are financially strong with efficient and effective operations to meet customer needs. This is more than just additional incentives. It’s about creating an aligned strategy for the end user, it’s about simplifying business processes, it’s about aligning adequate resources to support and define who will do what and when. Critically, it is about accountability and trust. BASF believes that working closely with our distribution partners ensures any redundancy across the supply chain is removed. This combined performance cannot be matched by others.”
Existing and emerging VOC legislation to reduce solvent emissions continues to make an impact on product technology requirements across the globe. “In North America for example, stricter compliance legislation, of the sort currently existing in Canada, California, Delaware, Maryland and Utah, is expected to be enacted soon in Arizona, Pennsylvania and New York,” said Outcalt.
“Legislation in China is also occurring. The challenge for manufacturers is to provide product technology that conforms to these sustainability requirements without sacrificing performance, quality and color matching excellence. PPG’s prime solution to the challenge lies in its acrylic latex waterborne basecoat technology. Our ENVIROBASE High Performance and AQUABASE Plus waterborne refinish systems are now in use in some 30,000 collision centers worldwide. The fact that more than 5,000 shops in the US have upgraded to this new technology without being required to meet the stricter low VOC standards is good evidence that this technology is meeting or surpassing customer expectations for performance and quality.”
PPG’s comprehensive Convert Confidence program is contributing to its customers’ conversion from solvent to waterborne systems. “Taking a proactive approach, this initiative provides the body shop with all the support required for the proper planning, technician training and equipment required to make a smooth, seamless transition to a waterborne system,” said Outcalt.
Another key issue affecting the auto refinish market is a lack of skilled technicians. “It is estimated that more than 180,000 repair-related positions will need to be filled in the next few years and this need will be an ever-increasing concern as baby boomers retire from the work force. In response, PPG and other industry suppliers have been increasing their support of vocational programs across the country, both at the secondary and college level,” said Randy Cremeans, PPG director of training U.S. & Canada and director global brand marketing.
As an example, PPG’s Partners in Education program is a collaborative initiative between PPG and technical schools to develop skilled entry-level technicians for employment with PPG customers. “Recently, PPG Automotive Refinish helped launch a groundbreaking associate degree program in collision repair and refinishing technology at North Carolina’s Fayetteville Technical Community College, said Cremeans. “The new collision center and educational program brings the repair industry in line with the innovative processes, advanced materials and sophisticated computer engineering that automotive manufacturers are using.”
Leading collision repair centers are striving to deliver a quality repair at minimal cost. “Cost and quality are not polar opposites,” Whittleston added. “To achieve both requires repair facilities reach the highest efficiency and effectiveness possible. At BASF we support our customers through our account representatives and business development managers delivering advanced business solutions. This can be as simple as helping our customer with inventory management or as complex as creating and/or rebuilding a new culture for their business. The beauty of our Advanced Business Solutions is that it provides a tool box for our BASF experts to select the appropriate programs that help our customers improve their performance and profitability.”
Insurers focus on cycle time and customer satisfaction performance and auto refinish manufacturers must meet these needs.
The “direct repair facility” (DRP) programs of insurance companies are increasingly the major source of work for collision shops. As a result, cycle time throughput and customer satisfaction (CSI) ratings have become key differentiators for determining which shops gain the business. “Given the competitive climate, continuous improvement in these measurements is essential,” said Jim Berkey, director, MVP Business Solutions, PPG Automotive Refinish. “It’s good reason why PPG is seeing increased participation in our MVP Business Solutions programs on the part of owners and managers of collision centers, both large and small. The MVP curriculum addresses every area that can impact on cycle time performance and customer satisfaction, with courses ranging from the beginner level to the most advanced. To address the need for continuous improvement, our Green Belt, White Belt and Rapid Improvement training courses are designed to educate the shop on the practical application of Lean Six Sigma principles to collision repair. Supporting this advanced training is a comprehensive range of courses, covering such critical areas as estimating, production, leadership, strategic planning and marketing. In total, more than 9,000 shops have taken advantage of these improvement programs and the fact that our peer-to-peer business solutions conferences are regularly sold out is indication that shop owners and managers are indeed facing up to the challenge of continuous improvement in performance.”
There is an increased need for refinish training. Sophisticated new OEM finishes along with emerging new refinish products, tools and methodologies require that even the most skilled technicians keep abreast by taking advantage of training courses available from manufacturers. “Each year at PPG Automotive Refinish we introduce a minimum of four to five new products for each of our collision brands,” said Cremeans. “Some are specially designed to enhance throughput and reduce cycle time, while others can add to the quality of refinish work or improve ease of use. It’s especially beneficial that paint technicians get hands-on experience and instruction on these products in support of their shop’s effort towards continuous improvement. PPG’s commitment to provide refinish training is supported by our extensive network of training centers across North America and Europe. A key component of the curriculum is our Painter Certification training, offered as part of the PPG Lifetime Limited Paint Performance Guarantee program. To qualify for the guarantee, the shop’s painter must attend a certification class in the proper use of the refinish system and be recertified every two years in order to maintain the collision center’s certification. This assures that the shop is making best use of the available refinish technologies.”
Fast access to the latest OEM color formulas and variants is another key trend. Given the hundreds of colors offered by OEMs each year and the variances that can occur from the prime intended color to the actual color coming out of the factory, it’s critical that refinish technicians and color mixers have easy access to the most up-to-date color information.
“To help ensure that the technician gets the color right the first time, PPG employs a variety of color matching initiatives and tools,” said Mary Kimbro, PPG Refinish Global Color director. “First, our color experts around the world have direct contact with OE manufacturers to capture yearly vehicle program information. This early involvement in the design phase facilitates PPG’s ability to have accurate formula matches ready when new colors hit the streets. When subtle differences in color are unavoidable at the factory level, our team of color experts proactively audit vehicles at ports of entry and identify any variations. Our state-of-the-art color matching laboratories then create special field variant matches which are made readily available to our customers through our COLORMOBILE application, which is updated daily and provides access from anywhere to our database of over two million formulations. PPG also provides color chips of variant formulas in its comprehensive color decks that are arranged chromatically. Sprayed with actual refinish paint, each chip provides “what you see is what you get” accuracy to the mixed formula.”
To accommodate the diverse color match methodologies of refinish professionals, PPG offers both an instrumental and as well as a visual approach to selecting the best color for the vehicle repair – early on before it reaches the booth. “Utilizing the RAPIDMATCH X-5 spectrophotometer to make the color selection up front is profoundly changing the repair process workflow,” Kimbro said.
“Search returns from our proprietary algorithms provide the technician with simple and easy visual indicators that quickly identify the best blendable match. Included with the search returns are chip locations to connect the returned formula to an actual sprayed chip. This focused, synchronized approach to pull all color tools together seamlessly and efficiently is paving the way to the future of fast, accurate color-matching.”
With the CAFE standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) targets being lowered considerably between now and 2025, auto manufacturers are investigating a variety of methods to achieve these goals. Outside of alternative fuels, one of the main methods being used to achieve these targets is the light weighting of vehicles using various new substrates.
“We are now seeing carbon fiber composites, new aluminum alloys, such as those used on the Ford F-150, titanium, glass fiber composites and advanced high strength steel, to name just a few,” said Whittleston. “The challenge for the collision industry is to have procedures to repair these new substrates - especially when more than one is used on a vehicle. However, because of the scale and diversity of BASF, we are working with our sister divisions and other research groups, such as the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, to ensure these challenges are met. An example is the 3D printed Cobra, shown at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, which was made entirely of carbon fiber composite, and coated with BASF refinish products. New substrates will continue to appear in the marketplace, which are even lighter and stronger than today, and we at BASF are well positioned to ensure that we have solutions for the “invisible repair” today and tomorrow.”
PPG’s third generation acrylic latex, anti-settle waterborne basecoat technology continues to be its latest technology for matching today’s OEM finishes. “It is the same basic basecoat technology that is used on the majority of today’s new car colors, so its film build and metallic orientation closely mirrors the appearance of the OEM finish, especially those highly chromatic, more translucent colors,” said Gareth Hughes, director Americas Technology, PPG Automotive Refinish. “Key to this technology’s excellent color matching capabilities is a supportive spectral gray primer system that mimics the OEM process of allowing the primer color to contribute to the overall final color appearance.”
Helping collision repair centers achieve high efficiency is of the utmost importance. One of BASF’s product solutions to achieve this is the Onyx HD system. “This is a really cool and unique system that allows collision repair centers to spray either water or solvent depending upon their requirements for a specific job,” said Whittleston.”Think of those times where you have said to yourself, I love the coverage and metallic color performance of my waterborne paint but this week I just need to crunch through some work and get the higher hiding and speed that can come from solventborne paint. With Onyx HD you can do just that. This product is flying off our shelves right now with customers giving very positive feedback on its performance, especially for color matching.”
A second new product launch from BASF is Glasurit and R-M PowerFill Plus range of primers. “These have just hit our distributor’s shelves,” said Whittleston. I”f you need a direct to metal primer that meets national rule standards with great sanding capability, here is a product you need to try. Ask your distributor about a demo and see how this product line can help improve throughput in your paint shop.”
PPG continues to make new primer and clearcoat technology options available to customers. “Most recently we’ve introduced EC550 En-V Ultra Gloss and P190-6950 Extended Performance clearcoats, the second wave of products incorporating our latest resin technology,” said Hughes. “Developed for multi-panel or overall finish applications, these new premium compliant clears offer an exceptional level of gloss and appearance. Our new SUA1080 UV Primer incorporates the latest aerosol coating technology to provide a high build product that cures by UV lamp and is ready to sand in two minutes. It is especially ideal for enhancing cycle time performance on spot repairs. PPG has also recently launched several specialty products in our VIBRANCE COLLECTION line designed especially for the custom market. They include VC5700 DITZLER Custom Clear and VC5250 DITZLER Satin Clear.”
Standox, one of the three premium global refinish brands of Axalta Coating Systems has helped a team of students from the University of Applied Sciences in Vienna, Austria, to paint a racing car they designed for the 2015 Formula Student competition. This is the second consecutive year that Standox has supported the OS.CAR team of students. OS.CAR stands for Old School Car.
Axalta’s participation is part of the company’s on-going commitment to promote the role of engineering in automotive design and coatings manufacturing and application.
Formula Student is a well-established international educational motorsport competition held annually for engineering students and usually forms part of a degree-level project. Within the space of a year, students must design, cost, build, present and enter a single-seat racing car for a series of static and dynamic competitions.
Andreas Auer, Marketing and business development manager for Axalta’s Refinish Systems in Austria, explains how the project first came about: “In 2014, we got in touch with the team of engineering students at Vienna University as they were looking for some paint to undercoat and finish their racing car for the Formula Student competition. With Axalta’s strong experience in motorsport, including Formula OneTM and NASCAR, we embraced the idea and went to visit the students. Their presentation was so persuasive, and they were so clearly passionate about the project, we decided to partner with them on more than just the coatings.”
The students first brought the car, the CR-113, to the Axalta training center near Vienna. Standox technicians advised and supervised the students as they helped to prep the vehicle for painting, with the technicians completing the job using one of Standox’s highly professional paint systems. The CR-113 successfully passed all technical checks and began competing in August 2014 on the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, and made it through to the final round of the competition.
This year, the students were back at the Axalta training center with the new CR-115 car, called Mako, named after the type of shark. Again, Standox technicians supervised the students with the initial masking and sanding, and then took over the difficult task of painting and airbrushing the front nose of the car with a menacing-looking shark’s face, mouth and teeth.