InterviewCHINAPLAS ’12: Car demand boosts engineering plastics - BASF
20 April 2012 03:41 [Source: ICIS news]
SHANGHAI (ICIS)--?xml:namespace>China’s demand for engineering plastics compound is still going strong because of good demand from the automotive application sector, a BASF executive said on Friday.
China’s automobile industry may have shown signs of slowing down but the luxury vehicle segment actually did quite well in the first quarter this year, and the bulk of engineering plastics consumption in the automotive sector is accounted by the luxury brands, Andy Postlethwaite, senior vice president for engineering plastics for Asia-Pacific at BASF, told ICIS.
“We would be concerned with any slowdown, but I think the China automotive growth is not one story, it depends on the different OEMs [original equipment manufacturers]. Some OEMs even in the first quarter were very successful, where others were not so successful,” said Postlethwaite.
“So I think it’s quite a mixed picture,” he said on the sidelines of the four-day Chinaplas exhibition in Shanghai which ends on 21 April.
China’s total vehicle sales and production fell in the first quarter this year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).
BASF supplies compounds made of polyamide (nylon) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) engineering plastic resin to the China market, and its key customers in China’s automotive sector include Shanghai Volkswagen, Shanghai General Motors and Hyundai, he said.
China’s demand for polyamide-PBT compounds is estimated at around 500,000 tonnes last year, and it is expected to grow further partly because the Chinese authority is strongly backing a move towards more fuel efficient vehicles, he said.
Automotive components made from engineering plastics such as polyamide-PBT compounds are lighter than those made from steel or aluminum, hence vehicles made with such plastic components are more fuel efficient, he said.
The usage of engineering plastics in automotive applications is still low in China where a 1.6-litre passenger car uses just 8 kg of engineering plastics compounds on average, but a similar vehicle in Europe uses 25 kg of the resins, he added.
“There’s a constant requirement of working very very closely with customers, to help them understand the benefits and the methodology of changing from more traditional steel or aluminium parts to plastic parts,” said Postlethwaite.
"That’s a challenge but that’s a positive challenge,” he added.
Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical ConnectionsBy: Chow Bee Lin+65 6780 4359
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