Western Polymers: Get Out Or Get Cleverer?

Business, China, Company Strategy, Economics, Europe, Polyolefins, Styrenics, Sustainability, Technology, US

MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION (SORRY, OUCH….!)

2009-frankfurt-motor-show-theme.jpg

Source of Picture: www.autospies.com

The automobile industry in the West has been bought more time by economic stimulus, as this article in The Economist points out.

But some of the discussions at the Frankfurt International Motor Show, which takes place on 15-27 September, will be about the future of the industry over the next few decades.

Producers face big economic, demographic and fuel-efficiency challenges – and capacity is way ahead of current and projected demand. (separate leader from The Economist with some more useful numbers).

So what might this mean for the polymer industry? Here are a few thoughts:

*Demand for smaller cars will increase. Automakers will need to focus on either ferocious cost cutting and/or adding more sophisticated features if they want to achieve anywhere near the same returns for these smaller vehicles compared with big, luxury lines

*This creates a big opportunity for innovation through both lighter plastics (with stricter fuel-efficiency regulations another motive) and plastics which deliver other design benefits. Added value will no longer be defined by a little bit of extra customer service and the odd clever additive. Breakthrough products will be needed

*Feedstock-advantaged producers will be in an even stronger position to meet what commodity-polymer demand remains

*The Western polymer industry’s own cost-cutting will have to be accelerated in the search for higher R&D funding, and as auto plants close down (since this recession started, there have been no closures in Europe, according to The Economist). Those with their own advantaged-feedstock positions in the Middle East and/or strong footholds in China will be in a better position to generate enough revenues

*The decline in US and European gasoline demand might lead to short-term feedstock advantages as the value of light-ends declines. Longer term, though, refineries will be shut down – potentially pulling the proverbial rug from beneath even those polymer producers with the right technologies (Note: Western gasoline demand is expected to keep falling after the economic crisis is over on tougher fuel-efficiency regulations and ageing populations, etc)

PREVIOUS POST

Equities, Futures, Sentiment = Recovery?

18/09/2009

Forget supply and demand, just record the index cards…. Source of picture:...

Learn more
NEXT POST

Falling China license plates a lead indicator?

23/09/2009

Source of picture: Chinaenvironmentallaw.com Talk around the water-cooler in Sha...

Learn more
More posts
China’s policy dilemma: raising local demand while protecting exports
13/09/2020

  By John Richardson IN THIS Western-centric world, a huge amount of ink is split over the cons...

Read
China’s polyethylene demand good so far in 2020 but beware of risks ahead
10/09/2020

Note that all the comparisons in this post are on a year-on-year basis unless otherwise stated By Jo...

Read
Ah, I see: China’s booming demand mystery a little closer to being solved
08/09/2020

  Note that all the data comparisons below are on a year-on-year basis By John Richardson THE P...

Read
The China polyester mystery continues in a world turned upside down
07/09/2020

By John Richardson SOMETHING very strange is happening in China’s polyester industry which has eno...

Read
China will struggle to boost local retail sales during rest of 2020 with export outlook uncertain
04/09/2020

By John Richardson IF IT were easy, then there would be an oversupply of owners of large yachts in M...

Read
Pandemic and the developing world: No quick and easy solutions
01/09/2020

By John Richardson POVERTY alleviation in low-income developing countries could be set back a decade...

Read
The pandemic and petrochemicals demand: a whole new approach is required
30/08/2020

By John Richardson MONITORING demand has never been harder because of the pandemic. One of my collea...

Read
China’s limited policy options to help lower-paid workers make 2020 retail sales recovery unlikely
25/08/2020

All the data comparisons below are on a year-on-year basis By John Richardson AS I’VE been flaggin...

Read

Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more

Analytics

Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more