Overall, PPG reported that the current global market is growing steadily and rebounding nicely now from the past recession. Major contributing factors include lower fuel prices combined with an overall increase in vehicle registrations and miles driven, especially in mature markets.
“This increase in new vehicle sales particularly impacts positively on auto refinish since new car owners are more likely to be insured and willing to invest in repairing the vehicle’s finish,” said John Outcalt, PPG vice president, global refinish. The industry is beginning to see positive momentum in several of the larger economies in the Latin American region. Rising incomes and economic stability are leading to more car registrations and an increasing percentage of cars being fully insured. We see a similar trend in India where the industry has experienced continual market growth that is beginning to accelerate at a higher rate.”
“There’s also positive growth in China, however the government’s concern for VOC emissions will be limiting miles driven, given new regulations limiting the numbers of cars that can be driven on any given day,” he added. “On the flip side we’re seeing flat to slight growth in Western Europe and New Zealand.”
PPG foresees that over the next five years, overall average growth will increase from its current rate of approximately 1.7 percent to somewhere around 2.2 percent.
Trends and Issues
Consolidation will continue to be a key trend in the auto refinish market. “We expect consolidation to continue in the distribution channel and shop environment, creating both opportunity and disruption for manufacturers, distributors, MSOs and bodyshops alike,” Toomey said. “This trend leads to greater efficiency in the markets and creates an environment where scale and reliability are key to staying competitive. BASF is actively expanding distribution to enhance our customers’ access to service support and the high quality products they trust.”
In the mid-term, Toomey anticipates further development of complex substrates that will require new product innovation as the OEMs push toward lighter weight vehicles and greater MPGs. “Over the longer term, the market will be challenged by the increase in automation and digital innovations beyond our current scope of imagination,” he added. “There will be a significant impact on demand from the continued automation of cars and the trend towards autonomous vehicles.”
Legislation governing VOC emissions continues to be a major trend in automotive refinishing. “It’s long been a factor in mature markets like North America and Western Europe, but in addition to China’s heightened concern, other ROW countries are increasingly becoming active in this area,” said Denise Lu, PPG global marketing director, Refinish. “PPG is continually fielding queries from customers in non-legislated countries on our waterborne technology, reflecting their increased concerns for health, safety and the environment. Now, while VOC-compliant products were once perceived by many customers as delivering lower performance than conventional technologies, this issue is much less of a concern today given the excellent performance of waterborne. As a result, sales of PPG’s waterborne basecoat systems are increasing significantly in many countries around the world where stricter VOC legislation is not in effect. To date more than 30,000 collision centers worldwide have transitioned to our waterborne systems, with a substantial number not yet governed by stricter VOC legislation.”
The introduction of accident avoidance features in passenger cars, such as forward collision alarms and lane departure warnings, will also have an impact on the accident rate in the coming years. “Moving into the future, the evolution of transportation options will also have an effect,” said Lu. “Autonomous vehicles and car sharing are just a few trends that, while not mainstream now, will become much more common in the not too distant future. We are also seeing increased investment in conventional public transportation infrastructure in countries such as Spain, China and South Korea, which will provide increased alternatives to transporting by passenger car.”
To stay competitive in mature markets such as North America and Europe, collision centers continue to seek ways to improve on their overall cycle time performance, which ultimately includes cycle time in the paint booth. “It’s a trend that will continue to influence PPG’s focus on developing innovation in refinish products that can do their job faster without sacrificing performance,” said Lu. “This trend also supports continued focus on helping our customers employ continuous improvement methodologies throughout their operation, from front door to back.”
Auto refinish customers are looking for a variety of performance characteristics. “Larger MSOs tend to focus on efficiency and cost optimization as well as support in training to facilitate shop performance,” Toomey said. “In other segments, we are seeing the need for enhanced shop automation solutions and value-added services being requested from the manufacturers. BASF provides a variety of business services, which support customers in optimizing their bodyshops. Our professional sales team is in constant exchange with our customers to find solutions which match their individual needs – from training to technical support. We’ve grown our Advanced Bodyshop Solutions efficiency program and expanded our iCAR certified course offerings in the U.S., to name two examples.
“In EMEA, the market players – the fleet and lease operators, insurance companies – expect national and regional coverage to enable repair work to be successfully guided into networks, and for that work to achieve the required quality and process standards the market players have defined. In order to satisfy this need for geographic coverage, Axalta places repair networks under one umbrella in some countries,” said Matthew Winokur, vice president of Corporate Affairs for Axalta Coating Systems.
“The insurance industry continues to gain more importance and influence in Latin America as well,” Winokur stated. “For example, in Mexico car insurance companies are seeking shorter cycle times. The introduction of new, bright colors in the industry in the last few years has been a concern to the refinish market, therefore they’ll require better systems that not only meet their needs but also exceed them. Axalta products portfolio offers solutions and color tools such as Acquire Plus EFX to satisfy these market needs.”
New Technologies and Products
Auto refinish customers are looking for new products and technologies that will reduce cycle time and increase efficiency.
Advances in technologies continue to change the way auto refinish manufacturers approach refinish – in and outside of the paint can. “The service landscape is changing, as digital solutions revolutionize shop management, color matching, and insurance relations, to name a few examples,” said Toomey. “Paint technology investments are driving the development of new color effects, new substrates, and the continued trend to waterborne products. This increases the importance of information transfer between OEM and Refinish paint businesses as the new technologies implemented by OEMs are translated to the refinish environment.
With a strong position in the OEM paint market and world class R&D around the globe, BASF brings leading technologies to the automotive refinish market. For example, product and process learnings from BASF’s Integrated Process for OEMs are evident in our sustainable approach to product development and shop efficiency programs for automotive refinish.”
The demand for better, faster and more efficient solutions yielding high quality results is significant. BASF continues to focus its development efforts on the integration of new and sustainable paint technologies such as effect pigments and water-based products. “We recently launched a new generation of clearcoat products which use state-of-the-art technology to make high-quality refinishing even easier and more efficient for bodyshops,” said Toomey. “They can be used universally, are particularly quick-drying, offer a high gloss and are extremely scratch resistant. In addition, we introduced a new Primer Filler which helps to reduce process times, energy and waste. Thanks to UV-A technology, it is also easier and safer to use. BASF’s innovation focus does not end with our products; we are also going beyond paint to develop automated shop management technologies that support better and more efficient shop operations.”
With OEMs increasingly using extreme colors to differentiate their offerings, such as highly chromatic, “candy-like” finishes, PPG is widely implementing its use of nanotechnology in the form of highly dispersed pigments to accurately match these colors.
“Many of the newer colors are transparent in nature, where the undercoat color plays a role in the final appearance,” said Gareth Hughes, PPG director Americas Technology, Automotive Refinish. “In response, PPG’s ENVIROBASE High Performance waterborne basecoat, for example, employs a spectral gray primer system that combines the primer color with the transparency of the waterborne basecoat to duplicate the OEM process.The legislative trend in recent years to lessen the environmental impact of the industry via low-VOC solvent- and water-based technologies in basecoat offerings is increasingly extending into ancillary refinish products such as primers and clearcoats. PPG’s waterborne systems for example include a wide choice of 2.1 and 2.8 VOC undercoats and 2.1 VOC clearcoats, and our value-conscious OMN and SHOP-LINE brands available in North America offer full low-VOC compliant systems”
Given the collision center’s desire for reduced energy consumption and faster throughput during the bake cycle, PPG is responding with products offering ultrafast cure chemistry at a lower energy rate.
Another key trend that’s driving new technologies in refinish is the OEM’s effort to reduce vehicle weight in order to meet government fuel economy goals. “This has led to increased use of weight-reducing aluminum and carbon fiber substrates,” said Hughes. “As a result, PPG is placing an increased focus on corrosion control chemistry and clearcoat systems that can provide the necessary protection of these types of substrates.”
Axalta’s latest introduction is a fast drying low temperature curing clear coat, a technology that responds to these two market drivers. “First, it meets the need to reduce cycle time and to increase body shop through put,” said Winokur. “Second, low temperature curing technology helps customers reduce their energy use, which both lowers their costs and helps reduce the overall environmental footprint of the coatings application process by reducing CO2 emissions.”
Axalta recently launched Syrox, the latest brand in its refinish portfolio. Designed with new European formulations specifically for the mainstream aftermarket segment, Syrox is a complete and compact refinish paint system, including a waterborne basecoat, developed for passenger car repairs.
“We identified a demand for a straight-forward, conventionally-applied refinish system that is economical to use and delivers accurate color matches,” Winokur said. “Syrox is a formulated to be suitable for body shops of any size that must comply with national or regional legislation on emissions of harmful volatile organic compounds, and those who are not reliant on OEM approvals.”
Syrox packaging is unique to the industry. The design of the plastic basecoat bottles incorporates a special dosing lid that is designed to allow for accurate pouring, down to a single drop of paint. A level indicator window on the side of the bottles lets users see when contents are getting low, and the bottles have flat-topped caps that cover the dosing lids to enable the bottles to stand and to be stored upside down so every drop of product can be used.
In the mainstream segment in Latin America, Axalta recently launched Duxone and Centari lines in Venezuela and Colombia last August. These lines include complete product systems to complement the current Axalta portfolio. Also, in Mexico, Axalta launched ChromaGloss, which is a high-solids fast-dry clear coat with great appearance, again showcasing technology that accelerates the coating application process in response to customer needs for increased productivity.
AkzoNobel’s Vehicle Refinishes business has renewed its sponsorship of the Human Power Team (HPT) Delft and Amsterdam.
Up until 2015, HPT Delft and Amsterdam had won the men’s category in the World Human Powered Speed Challenge for four years in a row, and held the world human powered speed record.
Staged each September in the Nevada Desert, the event pits teams against each other to produce the fastest performances using super-aerodynamic recumbent bicycles. The most obvious features of the competition bicycles are their re-
cumbent (lying down) riding position and the lightweight aerodynamic shell that covers them, both of which reduce wind resistance.
Determined to push the record beyond 140 km/h, the team is looking again to AkzoNobel and its Sikkens performance coatings for help with that all-important issue of drag reduction.
VeloX 6, the team’s bike for this year, has undergone changes in external shape and internal mechanics for even greater efficiency.
Remco Maassen van den Brink, marketing director for AkzoNobel’s Vehicle
Refinishes business, commented: “We are delighted to see 20 students of varying age, experience and knowledge collaborating in a team effort that mirrors our ‘winning together’ approach. Their shared spirit of innovation, and the way they rapidly learn to solve problems, make improvements and achieve everything within strict budgets and deadlines, is also very impressive.”
He added, “We hope our latest advances in lightweight, smooth and robust coatings will give them an extra competitive edge and we wish them great success.”