Developmental discussions – BASF

7 December 2015

Even though it is subject to increasing regulations across the globe, the automotive sector continues to offer opportunities to the leather industry as it becomes a desirable interior for emerging economies. To embrace this trend, BASF is organising workshops to highlight how its products can go above and beyond these new regulations to complement a variety of leather finishes.

The growth of the leather chemicals market has been spurred by the development of the automotive industry. In 2014, global light vehicles production (including cars and small commercial vehicles) was 87 million units. By 2020, about 57% of light vehicles production is expected to come from emerging markets in Asia and South America.

As a result, leading chemical company BASF has been organising a series of workshops to bring together key automotive stakeholders in the value chain to address emerging trends facing the industry. The events, held in Brazil and China, were attended by more than 200 participants from key automotive leather tanneries and automotive OEMs.

"International buyers are becoming more conscious about the compliance of environmental, safety and social standards," says Alex Wartini, vice-president, leather chemicals, BASF. "We work closely with our partners to continuously strive for innovation - technologically and ecologically - to help grow the leather industry."

Passed the benchmark

Recognising that overcoming industry challenges often requires different expertise, BASF engages automotive OEMs and tanneries on a regular basis in a dialogue, and better understand the latest standards required for resource savings and consumer safety. One such example is the recently launched new generation topcoat system from BASF that achieves a 20% higher durability compared with the industry benchmark, and meets the most stringent requirements from OEMs in terms of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and consumer safety.

Similarly, BASF makes it possible to achieve leather that is approximately 20% lighter than standard automotive leather but with a comparable tear strength. A light finish with soft Astacin PU binders and topcoats imparts a natural look with improved water vapour permeability while fulfilling automotive fastness requirements.

The automotive industry is facing a number of challenges including a continuously tightening regulatory framework for safer and cleaner transportation, and the ongoing need to differentiate in terms of innovativeness, design and appearance.

Presentation by Joachim Henkmann (left), head of BASF global industry management automotive leather, and Zane Yu (right), local business manager of BASF’s Leather Chemicals business, Greater China, at the China automotive workshop.

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