Glazing adds aesthetic, functional and structural properties to vehicle design. Shortening development times require glazing suppliers to play an increasingly integrated role in the design and assembly of complex glazing.
Pilkington Automotive is one of a small number of automotive glass manufacturers with the technical capability and geographic presence to play this role to the full.
Globally, OE glass demand is around five times greater than that of AGR, though the proportion varies from region to region. Within the OE glazing market, light vehicles, including all cars, light trucks and the various cross-over vehicle styles such as sports utility vehicles and people carriers, currently account for around 97 per cent of global vehicle build.
In addition there are several niche vehicle segments; medium and heavy trucks, bus and coaches, and off-road vehicles such as tractors and diggers, each with distinctive glazing requirements.
Vehicle build shows long-term industry growth to be around 2.1 per cent a year on average. But for glazing this is only part of the story - other demand drivers play an important part, both in terms of volume, and importantly, value.
Styling trends have increased the overall glazed area in vehicles, as demonstrated by volume models such as the GM Astra, Ford Fiesta and VW Golf, through their various generations. Today, these three models use around 20 per cent more glass than they did 20 years ago. Larger glazed areas invariably require increasingly
complex shapes, adding further to the value of glazings. New vehicle types such as minivans and SUVs with large glazed areas are now increasingly penetrating the European market.
Value-added product features include:
- solar control properties, reducing solar heat gain;
- de-icing and de-misting capabilities;
- integrated antennas for radio, TV, cell phone, navigation etc.;
- integrated rain sensors for automatic wiper activation, as well as other sensors and hydrophobic coatings for improved visibility.
Value-added activity includes:
assembly and the supply of complete systems using encapsulation or extrusion, which enhance the vehicle’s styling and aerodynamics, as well as adding functionality. Modern designs call for increased complexity in terms of curvature and surface tolerance.