The smart glass market size is expected to grow from USD 3.8 billion in 2020 to USD 6.8 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 12.1% during the forecast period. The growth of the smart glass industry is driven by factors, such as the growing adoption of smart glass in automotive application and, declining prices for eletrochromic material. Other major driving factors for smart glass adoption include supportive government mandates and legislation on energy efficiency. Governing bodies of various countries are increasingly encouraging the use of these energy-efficient products. Smart glass has inherent energy-saving and auto-dimming properties, which reduce its maintenance cost. As a result, the perceived benefits of these glass products are more than the incurred investments.
The automobile industry is growing at a fast pace since its revival after the financial meltdown in 2008. Renewed consumer confidence in the economy and higher spending have driven up the sales of light- and heavy-duty vehicles. The demand for automotive glass is influenced by several factors. The replacement volume of glasses increases with an increase in the total vehicle population and number of miles driven. Severe weather and road conditions can also increase the demand for automotive glass repair and replacement. However, consumers tend to defer fixing minor damage to a windscreen until a vehicle trade-in or sale or vehicle inspection. Therefore, sales of new vehicles, turnover of used vehicles, and laws for vehicle inspection influence the demand differently for smart glass in the automotive application in countries.
Smart glass is ideal for automobile, aviation, and any other transportation applications requiring heat and glare control. In the automotive sector, smart glass is used in applications such as rearview mirrors, windows, sunroofs, and windshields. Smart glass provides protection from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, reduces glare, helps control the heat inside the vehicle, and reduces energy consumed over temperature maintenance.
Smart glass was used for the first time in the 1980s, but the technology was commercialized after 2000. The smart glass industry has undergone many changes and advancements in terms of technologies and applications. The cost of smart glass is 2 to 4 times higher than that of conventional windows and glass due to significant technological advancements. The high cost of these glasses deters its large-scale adoption. Manufacturers find it difficult to quantify the ROI to end users and, hence, its major application can be found across the high-end and luxury verticals.
While the smart glass technology was introduced to the market almost a decade back, it is only in the last couple of years that manufacturers have secured the funding and support necessary to launch large volume production. With the opening of large volume manufacturing facilities, manufacturers are expected to achieve economies of scale, which, in turn, will lower the cost. With the increasing volume of production, the cost of smart glass is estimated to reduce by 30%–40%.
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The cost associated with energy is constantly increasing; consequently, the demand for unconventional power sources has been on the rise over the last decade. Solar energy is one of the alternatives to conventional sources of energy. The performances of photochromic and thermochromic smart glasses are directly or indirectly dependent on sunlight. The use of such auto-dimmable smart glass helps reduce electricity consumption to a great extent, especially for heating and cooling systems.
One of the emerging applications of smart glass is solar power generation plants. Smart glass is used in solar panels to absorb the maximum amount of light to generate electricity. The solar power generation sector is expected to offer many opportunities for smart glass applications in the future.
The smart glass market was dominated by Saint Gobain (France), AGC Inc (Japan), Research Fronteirs (US), Gentex Corporation (US), and Veiw Inc (US). A few strategies adopted by these players to compete in the smart glassmarket include product launches and development, partnerships, and mergers and acquisition.
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