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LANXESS: A Bet on Sustainability, Electromobility

By Alejandro Enríquez | Fri, 10/09/2020 - 06:00

Q: What are LANXESS’ solutions for the automotive industry?

A: LANXESS is a German chemical company with applications for a variety of sectors. Within our automotive division, we offer a portfolio of chemical solutions for vehicle and auto parts manufacturing. One of our lines is directly involved in the engineering of plastics, including polyamides, that provide specific properties, polyamide mixtures and fiberglass. Traditional materials like steel are being replaced with plastic and this has had numerous advantages. First among them is safety, since the vehicle can better absorb impact. Second, the vehicle is lighter and thus more efficient.

We also have another division focused on additives for lubricants and oils, which provide a variety of properties. LANXESS also supplies flame retardants for components used in different parts of the vehicles. In addition, we have a business unit called Rhein Chemie, which includes all products targeted toward the rubber industry, including tires and their additives. Finally, we are working on a really interesting project involving electric mobility, including hydrofluoric acid, which is essential in lithium battery production for EVs.

Q: What role does the Mexico’s automotive industry play within LANXESS operations?

A: Mexico plays an important role given the NAFTA/USMCA framework. We have worked in the region for many years and many Tier 1, 2 and OEM companies are already part of our customer portfolio. Even though some of them are from Europe, we have successfully supported them locally. For our Americas region, formed by Canada, the US, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, the automotive industry represents between 20 and 25 percent of our total sales.

Q: What is the added value of LANXESS products when it comes to chemical applications?

A: Our portfolio provides our customers with the latest technologies, especially when it comes to lightweighting, which represents a major efficiency advantage. In addition, they help users and companies to protect the environment by reducing emissions. Another added value is safety. Our products enable materials to be more resistant and flexible.

Another important element is thinking forward when it comes to electric mobility. Our products and projects portfolio for this segment range from battery production to EV plugs. Once again, it comes down to sustainability. In fact, LANXESS’ goal toward 2040 is for all of our processes to be climate neutral, which is unprecedented in the chemical sector.

Q: Regarding electromobility developments, which companies have been your major partners?

A: We have a really close relationship with German companies. For instance, we worked on a plastic brake pedal to make it lighter and safer. We also bought a company called Tepex, which is focused on fiberglass and other materials, to reduce the use of metal materials. Our global footprint of more than 30 countries helps us to conduct projects worldwide.

Electromobility will have a great impact on improving air quality in large cities if adopted by manufacturers of heavy vehicle and public transportation units. During the pandemic, despite the low number of vehicles on the streets, Mexico City did not experience a significant improvement in air quality as in other major cities, for instance. It is also relevant to have government support to implement policies and incentives to promote these types of solutions.

Q: What role will the Americas play in your operations in the aftermath of the pandemic?

A: Globally, we posted good results in 1Q20 although the pandemic was just starting to affect business. For 2Q20, we do expect a more significant impact following the suspension of manufacturing operations. However, our business unit focused on different high-performance disinfectants has been really successful. We have been working at full capacity on these products, as well as other materials related to water treatment processes.

Q: What are LANXESS’ strategies for the Mexican market?

A: We have been working closely with our supply chain, as well as logistics providers. We are transferring technologies and introducing new plastic engineering products to the Mexican market. Being active in the automotive sector, we are now carrying on with projects that were put on hold in the country. In addition, we have developed other business units in the country, such as disinfectants. We are collaborating with the Mexico City government to disinfect hospitals. This opens opportunities for us when it comes to private hospitals. We will participate in the Annual Chemical Industry Forum to take place in October through virtual channels and the central topic will be sustainability and its implications in the sector.

As for the automotive sector, LANXESS has been growing at a double-digit rate per year over the last five years. We expect the industry to recover soon and we are expecting similar results to what we saw in 2019.

 

LANXESS is a German specialty chemicals company with 14,300 employees in 33 countries. In the automotive sector, the company focuses on engineered plastics and polyamides, rubber additives, lubricant additives and electromobility

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst

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