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EU CAR SALES JUMP 12.1% IN JANUARY 2024
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EU car sales jump 12.1% in January 2024, according to the latest data from The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

A total of 851,690 vehicles were registered. This marked a significant rebound from the slow pace observed in the previous month.

Key European markets, including Germany, Italy, France, and Spain, all reported substantial increases in car registrations. These figures illustrate a broad-based revival in auto demand throughout the region.

Electric vehicle (EV) market share climbed to 10.9%, up from the previous year, indicating a growing consumer shift towards electric mobility.

Hybrid vehicles also saw a rise in popularity, accounting for nearly 30% of new car registrations, while traditional petrol and diesel vehicles experienced a decline in market share.

Electric car sales experienced a robust increase of 28.9%, with 92,741 units sold. This surge was led by significant growth in major markets such as Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Germany, highlighting the increasing appeal of EVs among European consumers.

The surge in hybrid vehicle registrations by 23.5%, along with a 23.8% increase in plug-in hybrid sales, reflects a continuing trend towards electrification in the EU automotive market.

However, while the automotive sector shows promising growth, the polymer industry reports stable but unenthusiastic demand.

Specifically, polymers like PA6, PA66, and polycarbonate (PC) are facing challenges related to good availability within the value chain, as overall demand in Europe remains tepid.

European PA6 and PA66 Markets in February 2024: Responding to Import Disruptions
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European PA6 and PA66 markets: The PA6 (Polyamide 6) and PA66 (Polyamide 66) markets in Europe are experiencing a notable shift as a result of the ongoing Middle East crisis, which has disrupted import activities.

The complications arising from delayed shipments and escalated freight rates are imposing additional costs and risks on buyers, who are increasingly turning towards domestic suppliers for their needs.

This pivot is notably rejuvenating the demand for PA6 and PA66, steering it away from the record lows observed in December and January.

Revival of Demand Amidst Supply Chain Constraints

Historically, the demand for these polymers had plummeted to unprecedented levels, heightening the risks of plant shutdowns and prompting concerns over potential industry consolidation. However, the current reduction in imports is inadvertently bolstering European suppliers, enabling them to elevate prices and recuperate some of their eroded margins. This development is particularly timely, considering the precarious position suppliers found themselves in at the year’s outset.

At the beginning of the month, it was clear that prices in the European PA6 and PA66 markets lacked traction. Suppliers faced significant challenges in attempting to raise prices, a situation compounded by the overall low activity across most downstream markets. Despite these hurdles, there are indications that some price increases are beginning to take hold. This trend is more evident for accounts that previously benefited from lower-priced imports, which are now seeing price hikes in the triple digits.

Raw Material Costs Bolstering Price Increase Justifications

The justification for these price adjustments is further supported by the rising costs of raw materials such as caprolactam and benzene in Europe. These increases in input costs provide suppliers with a solid argument for the necessity of price hikes. It is worth noting, however, that the extent of these increases remains constrained by the subdued activity in downstream markets, indicating a complex balancing act for suppliers.

In summary, while the European PA6 and PA66 markets continue to grapple with the challenges posed by the Middle East crisis and its impact on imports, there are signs of recovery and adaptation. Suppliers are strategically leveraging the situation to mitigate previous losses, albeit within the limits imposed by current market dynamics.

NYLON PRICES CONTINUE TO LACK TRACTION
restructuring

Nylon prices continue to lack traction, despite an ease in pressure from imports and higher costs. PA6 and PA66 resin markets are experiencing ongoing challenges as February progresses. Demand remains weak, likely causing suppliers to focus on seeking sales volumes.

As such price flexibility is becoming apparent, with downward adjustments continuing in some cases, most probably where prices were previously above the average.

However, accounts with prices already at lower market rates face price stability or potential increases.

This is partly due to rising costs of key raw materials, like the notable increase in benzene prices, which saw the contract price spike €214/MT in February.

Suppliers are proceeding with caution, wary of further eroding their margins due to the unpredictable nature of feedstock costs.

This cautious strategy illustrates the suppliers’ delicate balance between keeping their operations running by maintaining sales volumes and the pressure to offer price reductions amidst the unpredictable raw material costs.

In conclusion, the market for PA6 and PA66 nylon resins remains weak, primarily due to low demand within Europe.

Although pressure from imports has slightly eased, the main issue is the persistent lack of demand, which continues to dictate pricing trends.

With suppliers operating in a competitive environment, the possibility of margin recovery appears unlikely, underscoring the importance of strategic planning in navigating this complex market scenario.

ENVALIOR RAMPS UP PRODUCTION IN CHINA
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Envalior ramps up production in china. Envalior boosts its production in China, focusing on the growing e-mobility and E&E markets.

The company has completed expansions at its Jiangyin and Changzhou sites, installing new compounding lines.

These locations now produce materials like PA46, PA4T, PA410, PA66, PA6, PBT, and TPC, vital for the automotive and electronics industries.

Announced on October 12, 2023, in Düsseldorf, this expansion aligns with Envalior’s commitment to a low-carbon, circular economy.

The Chinese market’s growth, particularly in e-mobility, drives the demand for these high-performance and specialty engineering materials.

Envalior, established in 2023 with a 100-year legacy, blends DSM Engineering Materials and LANXESS High Performance Materials’ expertise.

CELANESE ANNOUNCES CLOSURE OF PA66 UNITS
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Celanese announces closure of PA66 units. Celanese, in its third-quarter 2023 earnings report, announced the shutdown of its PA66 unit in Uentrop, Germany.

The PA66 unit reportedly has a capacity of around 120,000 metric tonnes per year.

The company has decided to close the unit due to the high costs of polymerization, influenced by regional energy and material prices.

Celanese plans to halt operations at the PA66 unit by January 1, 2024.

Additionally, the press release mentions that Celanese has ceased production at Engineered Materials facilities in Campo Bom, Brazil; Berazategui, Argentina; and Wehr, Germany.

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