December 4, 2023
Automotive refinish refers to the process of coating automobiles, after-market automobiles, motorcycles, light and medium-duty trucks and vans in auto body shops, auto repair shops, production paint shops, new car dealer repair and paint shops, fleet operation repair and paint shops.

According to’s report, “The Automotive Refinish Coatings Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2022-2027,” the global automotive refinish coatings market reached a value of $9.6 billion in 2021. Looking forward, the researchers expect the market to reach $12.7 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 4.5% during 2022-2027.

As was the case across all paint and coatings segments, auto refinish was negatively impacted by the pandemic. The automotive refinish market experienced uncertain conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to reports, there was a dramatic decline of vehicle sales in 2020 and 2021, shortages in raw material availability and supply chain issues. This, in turn, has significantly affected the growth of the automotive coatings industry, globally.

“Generally, we’re seeing the automotive refinish industry continuing to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but still not back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Chancey Hagerty, PPG vice president, Global Automotive Refinish. “We are also still seeing market consolidation and ongoing supply chain challenges.”

“We see signs of continued market recovery as well as an increase in traffic congestion,” said Patrick Bourguignon, director Automotive and Specialty Coatings at AkzoNobel. “The markets show continued demand for new vehicles (despite rolling lockdowns in China) although we are seeing global supply challenges and the effects of the Ukraine-Russia war. The market shows resilience, especially in North America and EMEA.”

Another issue exacerbated by the pandemic is a shortage of skilled labor.

“In addition to ongoing supply chain challenges, our industry is also seeing labor shortages and challenges due to increased energy costs,” Hagerty noted. “These issues are all likely to remain challenges for the near future.”

“One of the challenges the market faces is the continued technological developments from OEMs. As an example, the number of cars is increasing with extensive radar and lidar technology as well as electronic vehicles,” said Bourguignon. “Furthermore, the consolidation in the industry is ongoing where bodyshop groups are expanding their footprint and acquiring independent shops.”

  “We know that our body shop customers face many of the same challenges that we do, including supply chain, energy and labor issues,” Hagerty said. “The one thing we hear from them frequently is that they need to find ways to improve productivity to overcome these challenges.”

“Probably the biggest challenge facing the market at the moment and for the foreseeable future is around how to do more with less,” said Bourguignon. “Our customers need to do more around sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint while maintaining and indeed increasing business volumes. This is of course within the context of rising energy prices and challenges within the supply chain.”

“We are addressing these needs in several ways, not least our ‘Rethink’ campaign, encouraging vehicle refinishers, distributors and work providers to rethink how they see sustainability, the products they use and the processes they follow,” he added. “It is about inviting them to rethink sustainability throughout the entire refinishing journey, at every touch point, and to show how in doing so they will not only be doing their bit for the environment, and addressing the needs of their stakeholders, but they will also be further improving their business performance.”

“With our premium brands Sikkens & Lesonal, it is about re-thinking and seeing our company as being much more than simply a product in a box, but rather brands that are delivering a range of proven products, innovative services, technologies, and expert knowledge, and who will be a partner in achieving their sustainability ambitions.

“As regards helping customers to rethink their energy consumption, we have dedicated consulting resources aimed at energy saving, complemented by products that help reduce energy consumption significantly. These include our award-winning UV curing filler and our ambient drying clearcoat.”

“By using our UV filler technology and our ambient drying clearcoat instead of a conventional primer and clearcoat, one could reduce energy consumption by 39%. And that’s just by switching primer and clearcoat, without accounting for other energy saving options. This is not just AkzoNobel putting numbers together. Our newest innovation, the CO2eRepairCalculator, has been officially validated by Carbon Neutral Repair.”

New Products and Technologies

Earlier this year, PPG introduced PPG VISUALIZID advanced 3D visualization software and the PPG DIGIMATCH digital color camera for easier and faster color matching in body shops.
“The advanced tools are the latest components of the PPG LINQ end-to-end digital solution for the global refinish industry,” Hagerty said. With the PPG LINQ digital solution, refinish customers can streamline their repair process by using PPG’s cloud-based platform and its interconnected digital hardware, software and innovative services.”

“Another exciting introduction to the market is the PPG MOONWALK mixing system. This innovative system saves labor time, reduces waste and transforms the shop into a clean and safe environment. This robust and easy-to-use technology sets a new standard for the refinish paint market by replacing manual mixing processes with a more efficient, easy-to-use, automated mixing system.”

The PPG MOONWALK system allows paint technicians and bodyshop managers to benefit from the extreme accuracy coming from the automation of the mixing process, improving speed, quality and color consistency.

• The PPG MoonWalk system sets a new standard in refinish paint mixing, removing the key pain points of users during the paint mixing process.

• It minimizes material consumption and as a self-contained system, provides a clean, splash free workspace.

• The system is sized to fit all mixing rooms and features 80 storage spaces for tinters and 13 positions in the dispensing rack.

• The user loads the required tinter, additive and thinner bottles into the rack – the system checks each bottle’s barcode, automatically dispensing the correct amount of product and printing a label.

• The system achieves greater productivity and efficiency while also limiting the potential for human error.

• The PPG MoonWalk system has been installed at more than 1,000 users around the world, including 30 countries in EMEA and all five continents.

• It has received a series of awards, including the 2020 Bodyshop Equipment of the Year award 2020 from Décision Atelier Magazine; the 2020 Technology and Innovation award from bodyshop magazine, and the 2021 Sustainable Innovation award from the British Coatings Federation.

Another of the big challenges facing the vehicle refinishing market is the issue of color matching.

“Digital color is no doubt the holy grail for automotive refinish and being able to manage color digitally in even more effective ways is our current focus,” said Bourguignon. “Today, our color scientists create up to 20,000 new formulas manually every single year. What’s more, they create approximately 20 times that amount digitally to ensure that our customers can access and replicate all the car colors in the world at any time through our color identification and retrieval application, MIXIT. In the future, the process of color development will shift even more towards digital, making use of new technologies such as machine learning to recreate colors fully digitally in a very short time.”

For the color matching process, AkzoNobel offers its customers the tools and applications to fully digitalize it, helping them to improve process speed, reduce paint waste and improve overall repair efficiency. Some years ago, the company introduced its cloud application MIXIT for color retrieval, which gives customers instant access to more than two million color formulas and variants.

“We are constantly developing the application to offer our customers data to gain insight into job cost, performance and process flow, going beyond the actual color process,”said Bourguignon.

“We also focus on the use of mobile phones by synchronizing the measurements of the spectrophotometer with the mobile app so that you don’t require an extra computer for color retrieval. Combined with a smart scale, all required data can be exchanged wirelessly between the client’s devices, allowing more flexibility in the repair process.

“For the future, we see this process becoming even more seamless and faster to ensure our customers get the color right the first time, every time,” Bourguignon noted.

One of AkzoNobel’s latest innovations stems from its new collaboration with Carbon Neutral Repair (CNR), a leading consultancy in carbon neutrality, to help bodyshops better understand and manage the impact that paint and painting processes have on their journey towards net zero. The collaboration helps give bodyshop customers total visibility of their energy consumption, VOC and CO2e* emissions based on the AkzoNobel paints they use, and the painting processes they follow.

“This new tool also addresses one of the most important topics today for bodyshops: the increasing energy costs,” added Bourguignon. “It can immediately quantify the potential energy savings when exchanging one conventional product with an airdrying product for example. It also will help bodyshops address the challenge of achieving a net zero future, and in particular the contribution the supply chain can make in meeting future targets. A tangible element of this collaboration is the launch of AkzoNobel’s CO2eRepairCalculator tool.”

CNR, the company that certified the first Accident Repair Centre to PAS2060 Carbon Neutral in the UK, has validated the energy used, and the VOC’s and CO2e emissions generated during a controlled ‘Two panel repair’ using the CO2eRepairCalculator tool and approved AkzoNobel paints.

The energy and emissions were calculated across four separate AkzoNobel approved repair processes and, critically, for 14 European countries compliant to the GHG Protocol’s greenhouse gas accounting standards.

The collaboration is helping to deliver a much greater understanding of a company’s existing emissions within the painting process and the consequences that using a different product or process – for example UV curing – will have on their overall carbon footprint. By way of example, in recent trials, it was shown that using Sikkens’ UV coatings system reduces CO2e emission by up to 33% compared to a conventional system. It also reduces energy costs by up to 34%.

*CO2e stands for carbon dioxide and equivalent gases. The tool measures carbon dioxide (CO2) and equivalent gases such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), which all fall under the term greenhouse gases (GHGs).

AkzoNobel is to further strengthen its African footprint after reaching an agreement with Kansai Paint to acquire its paints and coatings activities in the region. Completion, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected during the course of 2023. Present in 12 countries in Africa, Kansai Paint has regional consolidated revenue of around €280 million. The transaction includes the Plascon brand, which has more than 100 years of heritage in South Africa. Together with AkzoNobel’s Dulux brand, they’re the longest-established paint brands in the region. The intended acquisition also includes automotive and protective coatings, and coatings for wood and coil.

Axalta Coating Systems announced the launch of its next generation basecoat technology, Cromax Gen, for the automotive refinish industry in Latin America. The new product will help increase productivity and optimize costs for body shops.

“Color reproducibility is key for the automotive refinish industry. The speed and accuracy in which we can develop and offer the most accurate color formulas is what differentiates Axalta in our industry. This latest technology further demonstrates our commitment to deliver exceptional products for our customers and enable better business for body shops around the globe,” said Troy Weaver, senior vice president for Axalta’s Global Refinish business.

Backed by industry-leading innovation and hands-on training, the Cromax family of refinish products provides innovative and productive systems, standard setting color tools and localized business solutions aimed at enabling collision repair professionals to optimize performance.

The next generation technology was developed at Axalta’s Global Innovation Center in Philadelphia, thanks to the collaboration of scientists from the United States, Mexico and Europe. The product will be manufactured at Axalta’s Tlalnepantla and Ocoyoacac sites, both in Mexico. It will be exported to Latin America, followed by the United States and Canada.

“At Axalta, we constantly ensure that we have the most complete product portfolio that meets the evolving needs of the automotive refinish industry. We are proud to develop and offer innovative technologies and solutions such as Cromax Gen from Mexico to Latin America,” added Daniel Salcido, Axalta’s Mexico president and Refinish vice president for Latin America.

Axalta introduced Cromax Gen during the Expo Center of Experimentation and Road Safety (CESVI) tradeshow in Mexico City, where the company received eight CESVI certifications across its portfolio for meeting or exceeding highest quality standards, specifications, and performance.

In addition to Cromax Gen, other Axalta products certified are ChromaPremier, ChromaSystem, Cromax Pro, Imlar, Spies Hecker, Standoblue and Standox.

BASF opened a new laboratory building for the development of automotive refinish coatings and innovations beyond paint at its site in Münster, Germany. It underlines the Coatings division’s global position as a future-oriented and innovative company.

“It is another component of our positioning as a global innovation center of BASF Coatings. We are thus complementing a series of global technical innovations. This includes the ‘Lean Lab’, which we started operating in 2018 at this site, as well as our plant for the functionalization of films for various industries,” highlighted Uta Holzenkamp, head of BASF’s Coatings division.

With its new building, BASF Coatings contributes towards BASF’s target to reach net zero carbon emission for 2050.

“The laboratory building is a huge milestone for the development and formulation of sustainable product solutions. This includes our state-of-the-art waterborne refinish paint portfolio Glasurit® 100 Line and R-M® AGILIS. With the lowest value of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on the market, they are the eco-friendliest automotive refinish paint lines available,” said Chris Titmarsh, head of Automotive Refinish Coatings Solutions EMEA.

In addition to manufacturing sustainable products, the site is continuously investing in using energy for production more efficiently, and increases the use of renewable energies. The new laboratories are supplied with thermal energy by using the residual heat from the company’s waste incinerator, which is released via underfloor heating.

Since the beginning of the year, the electricity purchased at BASF Coatings’ sites in Münster and Würzburg, Germany, has been generated 100% ecologically from wind power. Compared to the previous year, around 4,000 tons of CO2 will be saved in Münster alone.

The laboratory building, whose facade is designed in six different grey-blue nuances that change depending on the perspective and the daylight, creates future-oriented workplaces. The innovative arrangement of the laboratories, warehouses, offices and meeting rooms enables a completely new, agile form of collaboration that is intended to promote not only efficiency and effectiveness, but also overarching collaboration and creativity. 


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