Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on EPDM manufacturers

7:30 AM, 1st February 2021
Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubbers are gaining prominence due to their remarkable resistance to heat, ozone, weather and oxidation aging.

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) is becoming a vital material in various industry verticals like constructions, electronics, automotive and additives. EPDM rubbers are gaining prominence due to their remarkable resistance to heat, ozone, weather and oxidation aging. They are used in glass-run channel, weather-seals and stripping, garden and appliance hose, radiator, belts, tubing, motor oil additive, electrical insulation, plastic impact modification, rubber mechanical goods, roofing membrane and thermoplastic vulcanisates applications.

Versatile polymer design and performance of EPDM materials has made them a preferred choice in the automotive sector. The material features exceptional elasticity and resistance to ozone, UV rays and extreme temperatures. Apart from good weathering properties, ethylene-propylene also showcases remarkable resistance to vegetable-based hydraulic oils and water-based chemicals. Owing to such qualities and wide ranging application, it is estimated that the ethylene propylene diene monomer market could reach a valuation of $4.28 billion by the year 2024. 

The role of EPDM in automobiles

The automotive sector is one of the major end-users of EPDM. The material’s excellent UV, ozone and weather resistant features fulfills the needs of the industry. Automotive companies use it as a weather sealing material that takes care of UV protection and vibration isolation. The material is also used as a sealing and noise-canceling material, and in vehicle engines to act as a barrier against engine vibration and road surface.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the automotive industry is experiencing a drastic decline in sales. The pandemic has had an impact on the global economy, but the automotive sector was one of the badly hit industry among all others. This has indirectly affected the business of EPDM companies as the global usage of the material shrinks due to low production of vehicles.  

The pandemic has disrupted the exports of Chinese parts, interrupted large scale manufacturing across Europe, and even led to the shutdown of some assembly plants in the United States. Nonetheless, with lifting of lockdown restriction and steady economic recovery, the automotive sector could regain momentum, driving EPPDM demand. 

Increasing EPDM demand from China

China, one of the leading markets composing of number of EPDM polymer manufacturers, is beginning to pick momentum as buyers being to book EPDM cargoes till January 2021. After the recent levies imposed by the regional government, shipments are heavily being demanded from regions like the EU, South Korea, and the US. Local suppliers are also witnessing significant demand from Chinese customers as enquires fill in for before the Lunar New Year in February 2021.

Companies operating in the EPDM industry are undertaking a range of organic as well as inorganic strategies to boost their production capabilities and consumer base. In November 2019, ARLANXEO revealed that it is planning to realign its production network of Keltan Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer elastomers to harmonize technology platforms and enhance competitiveness across the Keltan EPDM portfolio.

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Arun Hegde

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