Will Protective Panels Put a Dent in the PPF Market?September 24th, 2014 by Casey Flores
The French car maker Citroën has introduced exterior protective panels called Airbump on its new C4 Cactus passenger car that is designed to reduce dings and scratches on the car’s surface.
The air-filled panels, manufactured from thermoplastic polyurethane, compress up to 3/4 of an inch upon impact and, according to the company, bounce back to shape in an instant. Citroën asserts this will reduce the cost of vehicle ownership by curbing damage due to everyday bumps and scratches, such as those from shopping carts or the doors of other vehicles.
But will such a product catch on? With its protective nature, speculation has risen as to whether the product will rival paint protection film.
Eric Keller, business development manager at XPEL Technologies, says that though the product may be useful, it will not attract customers who prefer PPF.
“There are applications for this and there will be people who will use this, but I would consider this a very niche product,” he says. “I don’t see it as a competitor to paint protection film. It’s fine to protect your vehicle but I don’t see it protecting paint.”
Ken Shofstall, CEO of JUS WRAP it in Cocoa Beach, Fla., agrees.
“I don’t think it’s going to have an impact whatsoever,” he says. “This is made for people who can’t drive – at least that’s my opinion. I can also see that this going to be far more expensive than paint protection film. And as far as longevity, I would be concerned [it would] fade and corrode.”
Keller explains that while the Airbump technology may absorb dents and prevent potential scratches, consumers who purchase paint protection film are not looking for an aesthetic change to their vehicle.
“When we deal with PPF, our customers are so sensitive to the look. It has to be spot on. Most of the customers we serve don’t want to mess with [their appearance]. Some people will see value in it, but I’d say it’s a different product,” he says.
Though Citroën touts the technology as “stylish.” According to its website, “Airbump technology neatly sums up the fundamental purpose of good design; to combine style and practicality. Fitted to the sides of the car, Airbump adds a graphic structure to the pure, smooth body lines of the New Citroën C4 Cactus.”
What do you think? Will this technology affect the paint protection film industry? Leave a comment below.