Automotive carbon fiber composites market will be a billion-dollar market
With the increasing tightening of energy conservation and emission reduction policies in the world, especially in China, major auto companies have taken automotive lightweight as one of the important breakthroughs. Carbon fiber composites are considered to be due to their excellent performance in terms of weight, high strength and plasticity. Lightweight materials for automobiles with great development potential. Although carbon fiber has been used for a long time because of its relatively high cost and car-related applications, the situation has changed.
Gu Yongtao, president of China Hengrui Co., Ltd., said in an interview with Gasgoo: “In 2014, when we communicated with major domestic OEMs, they felt that the carbon fiber composites were very good and related ideas, but they started to lay out. It should be from 2016 that all major companies are equipped with relevant personnel or experts of composite materials, and they are consciously promoting lightweighting. Now most of the OEMs have their own lightweight departments, engineers with composite materials. This is very good for the entire industry.”
According to the report, the current mid-range model carbon fiber composite bicycle value is about several thousand yuan, high-performance cars even up to hundreds of thousands of yuan, “I firmly believe that the automotive carbon fiber composite material market will become a billion-dollar market.” It is understood that Hengrui has research and development or mass production cases from exterior parts, body-in-white to some structural parts. From the quantitative point of view, most domestic OEMs are carrying out pre-research or fixed-point of lightweight composite parts. Project cooperation and development.
It is worth noting that the winter of China’s auto market is still continuing from 2018 to 2019, and enterprises in the automotive field are inevitably affected. Carbon fiber parts companies are no exception. However, from the actual situation, the impact does not seem obvious, at least for Hengrui. On the one hand, despite the overall auto market decline, the growth of the luxury car market and the new energy market is still considerable, and the demand for carbon fiber composite materials in these two markets is growing relatively fast; on the other hand, although the Chinese auto market has quietly bid farewell In the era of high growth, but considering the low level of thousands of people, the industry generally believes that China’s automobile consumption still has great potential for development.
That is to say, for the enterprises in the carbon fiber field, the cake in the Chinese automobile market is still very large, and it is precisely because of this that whether it is possible to seize the opportunity is crucial for the long-term development of composite materials companies. As mentioned above, car companies have a certain process for the acceptance of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or related processes, but it is clear that related companies need to be laid out in advance. Taking Hengrui as an example, although in the field of carbon fiber, Hengrui started early, but according to the understanding, Hengrui is one of the early enterprises that will focus on the industrial batch production of automotive composite parts. Gu Yongtao said: “There are a lot of domestic carbon fiber parts and components. At the beginning, there were a lot of vents, such as aerospace, wind energy, etc., and we have seen the automotive industry from the beginning, as a cut in, we are in this market. It’s earlier, so it’s now possible to say that there is a strong advantage in both technical reserves and actual project experience.”
Judging from the actions of Hengrui in recent years, it is improving its product strength through acquisitions and cooperation. For example, in August 2018, Hengrui wholly acquired Engenuity, a professional composites design and analysis company in the UK, as a professional material analysis, design and engineering consulting business unit of the Hengrui Group, and participated in the development of its domestic automotive projects. At the same time, Engenuity will also maintain its existing business and further develop the market on a global scale with the attitude of an independent company to serve more different types of customers. In addition, in March of this year, Hengrui officially joined the AZL Aachen University of Technology Lightweight Alliance and became its partner. AZL Aachen University of Technology Lightweight Alliance specializes in the research and development of lightweight products, materials, production processes and systems that focus on integrating and combining multiple process chains and multi-material systems. Not long ago, the joint venture with the world’s leading composite parts manufacturing mold system supplier ALPEX in Austria to establish a factory in the country is a strong alliance between the upstream and downstream of the industry, in the form of a combination of international advanced supporting services to serve local customers.
This shows that Hengrui attaches great importance to the auto market. At the same time, it is not difficult to see that Hengrui’s target market is not only the Chinese auto market, but also facing the whole world. This is also evident from its international team. Gu Yongtao said: “Our genes have been diverse and integrated since their birth. On the one hand, technical aspects, especially the mass production molding technology of composite parts, we need an international team, because most of these technologies originate in Europe, we need These experienced foreign experts bring technology to the country; on the other hand, our market starts in China, but we plan to build factories in Europe and the United States in the future, so we need an international team to manage and promote Our upstream and downstream are also internationally renowned companies.”
As for why we should start to make carbon fiber parts from China, Gu Yongtao said that the reason is that China is taking a higher position in new energy vehicles. From the current point of view, the demand for carbon fiber in new energy vehicles is greater than that of traditional fuel vehicles. Some, in addition, there is still a lack of companies with relevant technology and technological background.
It can be seen that in the current market environment, Hengrui has its own layout ideas. So what is the view of Hengrui on the current changes in the auto market? What are the practices worth learning from? As one of the practitioners of lightweight vehicles, what kind of thinking is there about the future development and technological direction in this field? In response to the above problems, in the recent “C Talk Struggle 2019” high-end series of interviews, Gu Yongtao and Geshi Automobile conducted in-depth exchanges. The following is an interview record.
Gasgoo: China’s auto market has experienced negative growth in 2018, and the situation continues in the first quarter of 2019. What do you think of this?
Gu Yongtao: The auto market must have a period of growth and decline. Small-scale fluctuations are normal, as are other markets, not just the auto market. Specifically, in recent years, China’s auto industry has stimulated this market growth through various policies, but it always has a saturation period, especially for the middle and low-end consumer groups. Their frequency of changing cars is not very high, and this will Leading to growth is a bit hard. In addition, this is also related to the big environment, the Sino-US trade war and so on will also affect the consumption behavior of some enterprises and individuals.
Gasgoo: What do you think will happen in the medium to long term?
Gu Yongtao: I think the medium and long term is still very optimistic. It may not be as big as the original increase, but it will not fall very badly.
Gasgoo: The overall situation of China’s auto market was not good from 2018 to 2019, but the sales volume of the luxury car market is still growing steadily. What do you think of this?
Gu Yongtao: I don’t think this market will be too bad. In addition, the luxury car has also done a lot of price discounts. The development of this market should be very stable.
Gasgoo: At present, many of Hengrui’s products are mainly used in high-end cars?
Gu Yongtao: Yes, for the time being we are only in the mid-to-high-end car market, because the cost of carbon fiber is relatively high, and the application of low-end cars is still relatively small.
Gasgoo: In order to boost the growth of the automobile market, the government introduced the policy of car going to the countryside in 2019. How do you view the impact of this policy on the automobile market? What is your opinion on the policy of lowering the VAT rate?
Gu Yongtao: The car driving to the countryside should be relatively low-end consumption. I think that people who have economic strength and car purchase demand in the countryside should buy it, and its pulling effect will not be too big. The VAT reduction is a good thing for me. It is a very good incentive for the industry.
| New energy vehicle market: subsidies to retreat, accelerate the survival of the fittest
Gasgoo: In the field of new energy vehicles, it has been very eye-catching since 2018. It is far higher than other traditional vehicles in terms of the increase in the latter, but the decline in subsidies is also a shock for many car companies. Do you think the development of new energy vehicles is policy driven or market driven?
Gu Yongtao: Yes, the development of the new energy vehicle market must be driven by policies. Only then can everyone invest in this industry. After that, I believe that many people still pay attention to environmental protection and energy conservation, and new energy vehicles Energy conservation and environmental protection are of great benefit. After subsidies are retreated or even cancelled, it is necessary to look at the real strength of each OEM. It is possible to eliminate some weaker enterprises. I think this is a good thing and is conducive to promoting more. Efficient and better quality products appear.
Gasgoo: The development of the new energy market has always been a combination of multiple technical routes. In recent years, the technological path of new energy vehicles such as extended-range electric and hydrogen fuel cells has also become the focus of controversy in the industry. How do you view the development prospects of different technology paths?
Gu Yongtao: The emergence of more options such as pure electric, hybrid, and hydrogen energy is a good thing for the entire industry. The development of specific paths is related to the national strategy. For example, hydrogen energy vehicles are theoretically a special environmentally friendly product, but whether this field can develop depends on whether the country has the determination to invest in hydrogen energy. Infrastructure construction.
Gasgoo: Recently, the electric car fire incident has appeared one after another. What do you think of this?
Gu Yongtao: Because of the excessive speed of development of China’s new energy vehicles, there may be some omissions in the details, which is also a normal phenomenon. According to the current trend, the country gradually raises the threshold for subsidies and even cancels the subsidy policy. It will screen out a group of excellent enterprises. Through these practices, give them enough time and patience, they will make new energy vehicles better. of.
|Lightweight car: Carbon fiber is not only lightweight, but also has high strength
Gasgoo: How do you think about the importance of carbon fiber composites for the automotive industry?
Gu Yongtao: When it comes to carbon fiber, it will talk about lightweighting, but carbon fiber is not only about lightweighting. On the one hand, lightweight is good for all cars, positive. For electric vehicles, lightweight can increase the cruising range. For fuel vehicles, it is helpful for energy saving and emission reduction. This is also carbon fiber. Or one of the important reasons why some other lightweight materials are being used more and more;
On the other hand, carbon fiber is light and strong, and everyone may pay attention to lightweight, while ignoring one of its more competitive advantages is high strength. For example, we acquired Engenuity, a UK composites engineering design and analysis company, which has a project to increase the torsional stiffness for a large SUV. After research and analysis, they found that there are two points where the torsional stiffness is weak. They use recycled plastic plus unidirectional carbon fiber local reinforcement technology to finally increase the torsional stiffness of the vehicle without increasing the cost. 7.5%, and the two parts are less than two kilograms per component.
Gasgoo: So Hengrui has a saying called “beyond lightweight”?
Gu Yongtao: We re-doed an upgrade of the overall corporate image brand at the beginning of 2018. At that time, we proposed the slogan “beyond lightweight”. Because carbon fiber is equivalent to light, this has no doubt, but in our opinion The OEM is not simply to be light, but also to performance, or to seek a balance of costs, which is actually what we are looking for.
Gasgoo: What are the specific aspects of carbon fiber that will drive the weight reduction of the entire vehicle? Can you give an example?
Gu Yongtao: If you can reduce the weight anywhere without considering the cost, of course we have to consider the security issue. Specifically, the car is heavy or battery or power system. The battery now has some new composite materials applied in the outer casing. It is also derived from the lightweight, high-strength and corrosion-resistant composite materials. In terms of the potential application of composite materials, the interior is generally because of the special effects of the appearance of the texture, the same application as the outer cover should be considered a luxury.
Take the car chassis as an example. We have a project that replaces the heaviest part of the chassis with carbon fiber. It turned out to be 18 welded riveted parts. After many optimizations with our customers, the final solution is to put it. Turning into two parts, not only is the chassis part losing 55%, the whole process is less than a dozen. In this case, although carbon fiber is relatively expensive compared to metal materials, the overall automobile manufacturing cost has not increased too much due to the simplification of the process.
Gasgoo: Just now you mentioned that the battery is lightweight. Do you think that new energy vehicles have special requirements for carbon fiber materials?
Gu Yongtao: New energy vehicles have a greater demand for carbon fiber. We have a customer in the electric car, because they have a battery of more than 200 kilograms on the electric car, the battery is very heavy, so in order to reduce more than two hundred kilograms, they used a lot of carbon fiber, put some of the original The body-in-white or some parts have lost more than 200 kilograms and made a balance. Of course, this design has higher requirements and is generally dominated by car companies. We will participate in the design of carbon fiber components early in the project.
Gasgoo: How do you view the relationship between carbon fiber and other lightweight materials?
Gu Yongtao: In my opinion, composite materials are unlikely to replace metals in the short to medium term. The key point is how to cooperate with metals and use their strengths to improve vehicle performance.
| Carbon fiber mass production: multi-dimensional improvement of R & D design capabilities, optimize manufacturing costs
Gasgoo: What is the development of Hengrui in recent years?
Gu Yongtao: Very fast. In 2014, I just returned from the start of the team to about 300 people, especially in 2017 and 2018. Nowadays, most of the carbon fiber production projects on the market have some participation, and the momentum is still good. Especially next year, we will enter a period of rapid growth. Now this market is not big, but from some of the projects we are now involved in, we can see that the next year is a very big leap in the market, and our company will develop faster.
Gasgoo: Does the fluctuation of the car market have a big impact on Hengrui?
Gu Yongtao: The impact is not obvious. This has a lot to do with our relatively early layout. Moreover, our characteristic is that we are a lot of carbon fiber composite materials in China. At the beginning, there are many outlets, such as wind energy, aerospace, etc., and we have seen the mass production of the automobile industry from the beginning, so as to enter into the incision. We have been working harder in this market earlier, so now we have a lot of projects with the OEM, whether it is a pre-researched model or an actual fixed-point production project.
Gasgoo: What is the advantage of Hengrui?
Gu Yongtao: Team, our team can say the best now, both internationally and domestically. We have a group of people who know the car. In the exercise and running-in of so many projects, we have made resource integration in 2017-2018, and it is also the team building. Now it is a small new venture, but in composite materials. In automotive applications, our team is not weaker than any European team, which is what we are very proud of.
Gasgoo: It is understood that the elements of Hengrui’s internationalization are very obvious. What are the considerations behind this?
Gu Yongtao: Our genes have been diverse and integrated since their birth. On the one hand, technical aspects, especially the mass production molding technology of composite parts, we need an international team, because most of these technologies are from Europe, we need these experienced foreign experts to bring technology to the country; on the other hand, The starting point of our market is in China, but we plan to build factories in Europe and the United States in the future, so we need an international team to manage and promote. Our upstream and downstream are also internationally renowned companies. ”
Gasgoo: In the carbon fiber module, design and development is a very important part. What measures does Hengrui specifically use to strengthen this capability?
Gu Yongtao: Why did we acquire Engenuity, why do we want to build ACTC (Advanced Composite Tech Center), Asia’s largest composite materials manufacturing technology research and development center? Why do we form a joint venture with ALPEX, the world’s leading supplier of composite parts manufacturing mold systems? Because design and R&D capabilities are very important. Engenuity is very professional from material selection to design to simulation. The carbon fiber components are designed in the most reasonable way. I think this is a relatively lacking capability in Asia. In addition, why do we want to do ACTC, but also consider optimizing costs through research and development. Carbon fiber mass production two of the biggest costs, one is the cost of the material itself, on the other hand is the manufacturing cost, we also have manual manufacturing, many parts may take several hours and ten hours, but we also have applied new technology, can Reduce the number of hours and dozens of hours to a few minutes, or even tens of seconds. This solves two problems. One is the mass production problem. You can’t use the sea tactics to produce auto parts. The other is the cost. Because the cost of carbon fiber parts will decrease after the quantity is increased, this is one of ours. direction.
Gasgoo: Can you introduce the ACTC?
Gu Yongtao: ACTC is built by China Hengrui Co., Ltd. and fully supported by the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Germany. It is the first composite technology center in China with automotive light weight as its main research direction. The focused high-performance composite material research and development platform is dedicated to serving the Chinese automotive industry, and exploring integrated solutions for upstream and downstream development and research projects in the industry chain.
In short, ACTC is an open platform. OEMs can use our R&D equipment. They can come and develop their own composite parts to explore which route is correct. This applies to composite materials throughout the automotive industry. There is a push on it. Our goal is to input good foreign experience into the domestic OEM, so that everyone understands, has confidence, can promote this industry, and we can develop. The center officially broke ground in the second half of last year and is expected to be operational by the end of 2019.
Gasgoo: Dare to invest, it must be because the prospects for this market are more optimistic. What is the current value of carbon fiber bicycles? How big do you think the future carbon fiber market will be?
Gu Yongtao: The value of mid-range carbon fiber bicycles is about several thousand dollars, and even high-performance cars are hundreds of thousands. I firmly believe that the automotive carbon fiber composites market will be a billion-dollar market. In 2014, when we talked with major domestic OEMs, they felt that the carbon fiber composites were very good and related ideas. The actual starting layout should start from 2016. All major companies are equipped with relevant personnel or experts of composite materials, and they are consciously promoting lightweighting. Most of the OEMs now have their own lightweight departments, at least one engineer who understands composite materials, which is very good for the entire industry.
About the high-end series interview of “C Talk Struggle 2019”
In 2018, the auto market continued to decline or even negative growth, which caused the whole industry to fall into anxiety. In 2019, this state will continue. In the face of the turning point in the growth of the auto market, what is the view of companies in the front line? In addition, in the face of the resulting development and profitability challenges, what adjustments will be made in the strategy? At the same time, the automobile industry is undergoing a period of profound change. Enterprises are also facing many challenges in terms of technology upgrades and supply chain optimization. How will they respond? In response to the above problems, Geshi Auto conducted a series of high-level interviews with the theme of “C Talk Struggle 2019”, focusing on the trend of the industry leader chess team and exploring the future development of the car market.
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