Trends to Watch in Automotive Paint and Coatings Formulations

Trends to Watch in Automotive Paint and Coatings Formulations

Cars. Power plants. Refineries. Factories.  If you ask the question, “what is a source of pollution in the US?” these are the answers you would probably get.  An answer you would never hear -- automotive paint and coatings. 

Coatings don’t just emit a powerful smell; they also release harmful pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air.  Volatile organic compounds produce low-level, “bad” ozone, which is better known as smog.  Not only do exhaust fumes cause smog, coating fumes do as well.  Also, VOCs can potentially create a laundry list of health problems such as liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage; headaches; loss of coordination; and even cancer, in addition to the irritation that coatings fumes can cause to the eyes, ears, nose, and throat. 

To combat these problems, the automotive OEM and refinishing industries have responded by increasing usage of low-VOC waterborne coatings rather than the long-standing tradition of solventborne coatings in many applications.  Many body shops across the country are realizing the benefits of waterborne coatings. 

Beyond the environment, why switch from solvent-based coatings?

  1. Less waste - the more paint you throw away, the more money you throw away
  2. Worker safety - VOCs are thought to be a leading cause of work-related asthma
  3. Easy clean-up - no need for cleaning solvents
  4. Brighter, more vibrant colors

Steve Mankoski, Operations Manager at Dent Wizard, also cites better coverage and color matching, and fewer clear coats need to cover the base.  “Personally I love waterborne.  After using both solvent and water, I have come to see the benefits outweigh the costs by far.” 

Formulation Trends Expected to Continue

Automotive coatings and finishes have frequently been the focus of environmental regulation.  Water-based coatings are perhaps the easiest way to meet VOC restrictions as they usually have around a 90 percent lower VOC content than most of their solvent-based counterparts.  Auto refinishing shops around the world are making the switch to waterborne coatings in response to industry regulations regarding the environment and worker safety.  Mankoski says “Vehicle manufacturing plants have been using water for years and now it’s time for everyone to catch up.”

Solvent-based coatings have historically dominated the automotive refinishing industry.  This was mainly the result of a lack of high quality water-based coatings.  In the past decade, research and development efforts have successfully produced several high-quality waterborne coating product lines.  Paint companies such as PPG, BASF, and Axalta are working hand in hand with body shops to help them make the switch.  Analysts at The Freedonia Group expect these trends to continue as water-based coatings are projected to become the leading formulation in the overall protective and specialty market, which includes automotive refinishes.

Find Out More

For more information on major formulation and market trends in the manufacturing (OEM), protective, and specialty coatings industries in the US, as well as comprehensive coverage of historical demand data, forecasts, key market environment factors, and company market share, check out Manufacturing (OEM) Coatings Market in the US and Protective & Specialty Coatings Market in the US, both from The Freedonia Group.

About the Author:

Matthew Hurley is an industry analyst at The Freedonia Group, where he writes studies focused on the US polymers and materials products markets.

  Automotive & Transport      Chemicals      Industry Studies