Publication: Lightweighting World
Issue: January-February 2018
By Dan Larson |
The automotive industry is charging ahead into a new era, and lightweighting concepts and materials are providing the fuel.
Just around the corner is a world where self-driving cars are efficiently powered by hybrid power plants that integrate electric motors into internal-combustion engine castings, where passenger compartments double as office cubicles, and platoons of long-distance trucks hum down dedicated lanes at speeds exceeding 120 miles per hour.
Leading the way
The established original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), their top-tier suppliers and sharp-elbowed tech companies are right now exploring new ways to reduce weight, improve assembly and repair, and integrate technology into the next version of the automobile.
Our assessment of today’s plastics industry reveals that its position as the supplier of a key material for components, safety, materials bonding, design and styling is assured.
And, as the market demands vehicles do more than ever, additional onboard technology will require plastics to accommodate the additional mass of that technology without adding weight.
More Than Mileage
“Manufacturers have increased use of plastics in cars since the 1950s to save weight without sacrificing strength,” says Gina Oliver, senior director, Automotive Plastics Division at the American Chemistry Council.
“The trend toward lightweighting is here to stay,” she said. “But in tomorrow’s cars, plastics will not be selected for fuel efficiency alone.”
“The technology required for self-driving vehicles, network connectivity, ride-sharing platforms and electrification will require lightweight materials to do much more than just improve mileage,”
– Gina Oliver, American Chemistry Council.