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Exterior Automotive Plastics Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Type (Polypropylene, Polyurethane, Polyamide, Polyvinyl Chloride, Polycarbonate, Polyethylene, and Others), Application (Bumpers & Grills, Roof, Lights, Liftgate, and Others), and Regional Forecast, 2022-2029

Last Updated: July 01, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI106720



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The global exterior automotive plastics market size was valued at USD 11.53 billion in 2021. The market is projected to grow from USD 12.18 billion in 2022 to USD 17.94 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 5.7% during the forecast period. Asia Pacific dominated the exterior automotive plastics market with a market share of 58.89% in 2021. 

The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and staggering, with exterior automotive plastics witnessing higher-than-anticipated demand across all regions compared to pre-pandemic levels. Based on our analysis, the global plastics market exhibited a decline of 7.3% in 2020 as compared to 2019.

Plastics play an important role in automotive components and parts due to their ability to source from renewable raw materials, easy manufacturing, and improved designs. The revival of the automotive industry, increased vehicle design capabilities, and a growing focus on vehicle weight reduction and pollution control are the factors driving the market for exterior automotive plastics globally. Moreover, the increasing adoption of electric vehicles coupled with rising improvements in recycling processes has also surged the demand for high-performance plastics. As a result, exterior automotive plastics usage will flourish during the forecast timeframe.    


Decline in Plastic Consumption Due to COVID-19 has Affected the Market Growth  

Several countries declared restrictions on the movement of raw materials since the outbreak of coronavirus in late 2019, impacting the supply chain of exterior automotive plastics. Since the distribution of both raw material supply and finished goods was affected, COVID-19 severely distressed the revenues of automotive plastic manufacturers. Increasing lockdown restrictions globally reduced the demand for plastics from the automotive industry. The global automotive sector faced disruptions in exports of parts from China, large-scale manufacturing interruptions across Europe, and the shutdown of assembly plants in the U.S., which put intense pressure on an industry already facing a downshift in global demand. However, increasing initiatives by many governments to normalize their economies back on track will stabilize the market in a couple of years. 


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Incorporation of Bioplastics by Automotive Manufacturers will Create Growth Opportunities

Cutting fuel consumption and emissions by reducing vehicle weight is a central objective and major challenge for automotive manufacturers. However, the increasing use of plastic in automobiles has raised concerns over the product's environmental impact. Therefore, several leading automotive manufacturers worldwide have started incorporating bio-based plastics to reduce the environmental impact created by the products. The automotive industry is using several biopolymers, such as bio-based polyamide, bio-polypropylene, and PLA blends, due to their durability and ability to withstand harsh conditions. Additionally, these bio-based polymers offer various benefits to the automotive industry such as reducing dependence on volatile energy markets and increasing resource efficiency. Hence, such factors will boost the adoption of bioplastics in the automotive industry for exterior applications.


Rising Demand for Plastic from the Automotive Industry to Fuel Market Growth

The consumption of exterior automotive plastics is rising with the surging demand for lightweight vehicles. Stringent environmental regulations and safety standards implemented by the governments have compelled the automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to substitute metal components with those made from polymers. The use of polymers in the automotive reduces the vehicle's overall weight, thereby increasing its fuel efficiency and benefitting in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the escalating demand for electric cars promotes the exterior automotive plastics market growth. Electric vehicles can offer better energy efficiency as compared to conventional vehicles due to increased usage of polymers. The rigid, strong, and flexible nature of polymers makes them appropriate for exterior application in automotive. Hence, the increase in the use of polymers to manufacture automotive parts is fueling the market growth.


Safety Concerns Over the Use of Plastic to Impede Market Growth

The safety of a consumer is of chief significance for automakers. Thus, systems are being built to be reliable, predictable, and have minimal variation in the vehicle's performance. Nowadays, plastic is replacing aluminum and steel as it is lightweight and showcases properties similar to that of metals, but they also raise questions about safety. Various consumers have raised concerns regarding plastic's capability to retain its shape and physical characteristics in the circumstances of harsh usage. Furthermore, increasing levels of plastic pollution globally threaten the use of polymers in automobiles. The plastics obtained from scrapped vehicles usually end up in landfills as re-engineering requires higher capital investment and advanced technology infrastructure. Also, the recycling of engineered and durable plastic components is limited due to technological restraints. Hence, these factors act as a major restraint for the market of exterior automotive plastics.


By Type Analysis

Others Segment Accounted for the Major Share due to High Preference for ABS and PBT

Based on type, the market is segmented into polyurethane, polycarbonate, polypropylene, polyethylene, polyamide, polyvinyl chloride, and others. 

The others segment held a major share in the market. This segment includes Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), unsaturated polyester, and polybutylene terephthalate. These plastics showcase properties, such as resistance to temperature & weathering, waterproof, and shiny finish, and are used for window panels, exterior trims, wipers, and fog lamps. Hence, the demand for external applications is growing.

Polypropylene thermoplastic is a widely used plastic by the automotive industry for exterior applications, owing to its properties such as moldability, resistance to impact, and excellent heat & chemical resistance. Benefitting properties along with rising demand for lightweight automobiles is driving the segment. Polyurethane (PU) segment is witnessing a surge in consumption as the PU-based coatings also exhibit properties such as scratch resistance, gloss, adhesion, and flexibility. For exterior application, PU is also used as foam in bumpers to dampen vibration, reduce noise, and create impact resistance.

Properties of polyamide (PA), such as high strength, rigidity, resilience, and abrasion resistance, are the major factors behind its increased consumption by the automotive industry for exterior applications. Components of an automotive, such as door & tailgate handles, exterior mirrors, fuel caps & lids, and grilles, are made using PA.

By Application Analysis

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Bumpers & Grills Segment to be Fastest Growing Segment owing to Increasing Adoption of Polymers in their Making

Based on application, the market is categorized into bumpers & grills, roof, lights, litigate, and others.

The bumpers & grills segment accounted for the largest market share in 2021. Plastic offers freedom in designing automotive parts to the designers & engineers to create and mold the elegant look of the vehicle. Furthermore, plastics have enabled engineers & designers to create bumpers & grills, which improve vehicle handling with the help of aerodynamics, thereby leading to segment growth.

Automakers who want to incorporate sunroofs or produce convertible cars consume plastics for roof application. Rising demand for premium and customized vehicles is propelling segment growth. Lighting systems in an automobile consist of lighting and signaling devices usually mounted on the motor vehicle's front, side, and rear. The automotive industry is increasingly adopting plastics to produce light casings due to their high transparency and ability to broadcast light further. Additionally, adaptive headlights are creating lucrative growth opportunities for plastic manufacturers.

Liftgate is the rear cargo door of the vehicle made using durable and flexible polymers to provide crash protection and maintain structural integrity. Replacement of steel and other metals in liftgate has offered advantages such as less carbon dioxide emissions, improved handling, increased body balance, and lower center of gravity, thereby surging polymer demand. Others segments comprise plastic parts and components, including mirror, wheel cover, door handles & panel, fender, mounting brackets, coatings, and protection strips. The primary role of these components is to improve vehicle aesthetics and provide protection from scratches. The advantages offered by the use of plastic are fueling the segment growth.


Asia Pacific Exterior Automotive Plastics Market Size, 2021 (USD Billion)

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The market in Asia Pacific stood at USD 6.79 billion in 2021. The presence of several automotive original equipment manufacturers in the region is driving the market for exterior automotive plastics. Furthermore, raw material availability and low-cost labor have made Asia Pacific the major parts & components manufacturer and exporter. China holds the largest market share and is projected to be the fastest-growing country. Raw material availability, cheap labor, and extensive production technologies are the few factors driving the market growth in the country.

The exterior automotive plastics market size is estimated to grow in North America, especially due to increasing demand from major automotive manufacturers. The region boasts several major automotive companies, including Ford Motor Company, Tesla Inc., General Motors, and Others. The regulatory and government bodies in the area have introduced rules and regulations to curb CO2 emissions from the vehicles, which is projected to create novel opportunities for plastic automotive part manufacturers.

The market's growth in Europe is primarily attributed to the guidelines enforced by the European Union (EU) about greenhouse gas emissions on automotive manufacturers, thereby compelling them to increase plastic adoption. The goals established by the European countries to reach a circular economy by 2030 and increase dependence on eco-friendly and recyclable materials are fueling the market growth in the region. Furthermore, the area is witnessing rising demand for electric vehicles, which will support the exterior automotive plastics consumption.

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The rapid expansion of the automotive industry coupled with increasing infrastructure development in Brazil and Argentina has fueled the adoption in this region. The countries, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey have boosted the automotive industry’s growth in the Middle East & Africa. The rapid industrialization and rising production of automotive parts in the countries mentioned above will augment consumption.


Adoption of Sustainable Technologies is the Strategic Initiative Implemented by Companies

Leading players in the market are Arkema, BASF SE, and Borealis AG. These companies are involved in capacity improvement, product innovation, acquisition, and collaborations in the market. The companies have invested hefty sums in using sustainable technologies and developing eco-friendly products. Borealis AG specializes in the manufacturing and distribution of base chemicals and polyolefin. The company's largest integrated polyolefin complex is located in Ruwais, UAE. Borealis has a wide presence in five continents in 120 countries across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa.


  • Arkema (France)

  • BASF SE (Germany)

  • Borealis AG (Austria)

  • Dupont (U.S.)

  • DSM (Netherlands)

  • Evonik Industries (Germany)

  • Exxonmobil (Texas)

  • Lanxess (Germany)

  • LyondellBasell (Netherlands)

  • Covestro AG (Germany)


  • May 2022: Lanxess and Advent International signed an agreement to acquire DSM Engineering Materials from Royal DSM for around USD 3.9 billion. The DSM Engineering Materials will become part of a joint venture established by Lanxess and Advent International, which hold 40% and 60% of the joint venture, respectively.

  • January 2020: BASF SE closed the acquisition of Solvay’s polyamide business. The acquisition broadened the company’s polyamide capabilities with innovative products such as Technyl. This allowed the company to support its customers with better engineering plastics solutions for e-mobility and autonomous driving. Moreover, the transaction enhanced the company’s access to growth markets in Asia as well as in South and North America.

  • November 2019: Borealis declared its new polypropylene (PP) compounding plant in Taylorsville, U.S. The company has also added an initial 66 million pounds of capacity to strengthen Borealis’ and Borouge’s global supply capability for short-glass fiber (SGF) compounds and thermoplastic olefin (TPO). The first compounds manufactured in the new facility are mainly automotive exterior and interior parts for major OEM and Tier customers. The expansion of the compounding facility in North America will help the company to benefit its customers through regional supply and product development capabilities.


An Infographic Representation of Exterior Automotive Plastics Market

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The global market research report offers detailed market analysis and focuses on key aspects, including major producing companies, types, applications, and trends. The report also provides a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative market analysis. It highlights the research methodology used for deriving market data and covers recent industry developments. In addition, the report states the growth factors of the market at a global and regional level.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Estimated Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



Value (USD Billion), Volume (Million Ton)


By Type, Application, and Geography

By Type

  • Polypropylene

  • Polyurethane

  • Polyamide

  • Polyvinyl Chloride

  • Polycarbonate

  • Polyethylene

  • Others

By Application

  • Bumpers & Grills

  • Roof

  • Lights

  • Liftgate

  • Others

By Geography

  • North America (By Type, By Application, By Country)

    • U.S. (By Application)

    • Canada (By Application)

    • Mexico (By Application)

  • Europe (By Type, By Application, By Country)

    • Germany (By Application)

    • U.K. (By Application)

    • France (By Application)

    • Italy (By Application)

    • Spain (By Application)

    • Russia (By Application)

    • Rest of Europe (By Application)

  • Asia Pacific (By Type, By Application, By Country)

    • China (By Application)

    • Japan (By Application)

    • India (By Application)

    • South Korea (By Application)

    • Rest of Asia Pacific (By Application)

  • Latin America (By Type, By Application, By Country)

    • Brazil (By Application)

    • Argentina (By Application)

    • Rest of Latin America (By Application)

  • Middle East & Africa (By Type, By Application, By Country)

    • GCC (By Application)

    • South Africa (By Application)

    • Rest of Middle East & Africa (By Application)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 11.53 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 17.94 billion by 2029.

In 2021, the market value stood at USD 11.53 billion.

Registering a CAGR of 5.7%, the market will exhibit rapid growth in the forecast period (2022-2029).

The polypropylene segment is expected to lead the market during the forecast period.

Increasing use of plastic in the automotive industry is the key factor driving the market.

China held the highest share in the market in 2021.

Arkema, BASF SE, and Borealis AG are the leading players in the market.

The rapid growth in automotive industry and increasing adoption of electric vehicles are anticipated to boost the product consumption.

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