The automotive industry faces many challenges: improving energy efficiency, reducing vehicle emissions, ensuring safety and high performance without increasing costs.

The UK Transport Vision 2050 forecasts car ownership to increase between 11% and 43% by 2050, with demand for natural fibres increasing due to their high use in vehicle interiors and some semi-structural parts.

Composites in the automotive industry

The use of structural composite materials in the automotive industry began in the 1950s, demonstrating their lightweighting properties to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions, fatigue resistance and flexibility in being moulded to shape. 

Around 7% year-on-year growth is expected in the use of composites in structural components and powertrain applications due to the high usage of glass and carbon fibre. According to Market Research Future, the automotive composites market is expected to exhibit year-on-year growth of over 11.2% to reach a value of around $15.08 billion USD by the end of the forecast period of 2022-2028.

What happens to cars and other automotives at the end of their life is still a key challenge for the industry. The National Composites Centre is working with industry partners to develop environmentally friendly dismantling, recycling and reuse of vehicles and their components, as well as designing and manufacturing automotive components made from natural, bio-based materials for the next generation of automotives powered by sustainable fuels, such as hydrogen. 

What we do

At the National Composites Centre, we are assessing biomaterials and resin systems to support the adoption of bio-sensitive materials that reduce the potential environmental impact for OEMs. The overarching aim is to accelerate the route to net zero, helping UK companies to innovate and create a green ecosystem for the automotive industry. 


Biomaterials for vehicle body panels and interior trim is ever more important as legislation and societal norms start to focus the minds of many OEMs. The National Composites Centre has developed the tools and processes that assist OEMs achieve their goals and enable a faster adoption of biomaterials and resin systems into their products.

We are currently focusing on innovation in composite interior trim for for passenger vehicles and light weight biomaterial body panels for the truck market.

Energy storage systems

We're focusing on the development of the design tools and the manufacture of hydrogen pressure vessels to operate at 700b and 350b for the automotive sector. It is critical that the industry can reduce emissions and accelerate the introduction of new low emission technologies into the market. For many years, the National Composites Centre has been investing in tools that reduce the design time and accelerate design iterations to provide a quicker route to market and commercialisation for OEMs.

Composite battery enclosures are becoming ever more important in distributed vehicle energy systems. Having the ability to reduce sealing surfaces and welds that are often porous in traditional metal enclosures is key. By using composites, we can increase the ability to contain thermal events and ensure that we can control thermal propagation into neighbouring structures.

NCC training

Upskilling the automotive workforce

Read more about Upskilling the automotive workforce

Upskilling the automotive workforce

The National Composites Centre provides specialised composites training - from the basic introductory courses on composite materials through to bespoke deep focus on a topic with customised content. Our training covers composite manufacturing methods, sustainability and digital methodologies that can be tailored for the automotive industry. Our aim is to equip your workforce with the skills needed to increase your profitability, your operational efficiency, your awareness to sustainable materials and to introduce new ways to design in composite materials that will reduce part-count and lineside complexity.

Work with us

Access our world-leading R&D facility

Read more about Access our world-leading R&D facility

Access our world-leading R&D facility

As one of the seven centres that make up the UK's High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the NCC has more 450 composite experts (and an additional 200 at the University of Bristol) that can support you with solutions for your business and product challenges.

We've invested over £200 million in cutting edge technologies within our two Bristol-based facilities since we began in 2011. Our portfolio has grown extensively: we’re working with companies of all sizes from micro-organisations and start-ups to some of the world’s largest and most respected innovators. With links to over 60 universities and academic institutions, we are in a prime position to accelerate your product development from low technology readiness levels towards a robust commercial offering. 

Collaboration and funding opportunities

Read more about Collaboration and funding opportunities

Collaboration and funding opportunities

Working with the NCC could not be simpler. We can work with you and support your business through a variety of ways: from a standard contracting commercial basis through to supporting or leading bids into wider funding calls, and as a part of major collaborative research programmes. Our dedicated SME Support team offers dedicated support to help with innovation, giving access to our facility and expertise to increase the technology readiness level (TRL) of your products. In 2021, we secured over £7.5 million of grant funding and supported 169 SMEs. 

As part of the wider Catapult Network, the NCC fosters collaborations between industry, government, research organisations, academia and many others. Through this extensive network of organisations, we can help create the best environments for innovation, working with thousands of innovative businesses across a wide range of sectors, such as manufacturing, space, health, digital, energy, transport, telecoms, the urban environment and many others. 

NCC membership opportunities

The National Composites Centre offers a range of membership opportunities that give you access to 'beyond' state-of-the-art technology and the best composites engineering capabilities in the world, as well as expert advice from specialist engineers. Our Members are our closest customers – helping to steer our major R&D activities with multiple partners, allowing them to share the benefits of the programme outputs that have greater value as a collaboration. Find out how membership with the NCC can bring you added benefits. 


Book a consultation with the team

Our dedicated Surface Transport team has specific automotive industry expertise that can help you to innovate and decarbonise your products and services. We can help you to shape your R&D, collaborate with you on your projects, offer training and skills development, and advise you on what is required to increase the technology readiness level of your product and get ready for market. We're here to help. 

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