While the object shown here might bring some piece of modern sculpture to mind, it is actually a fastener for the seat covers in the new Mercedes B-Class.
Gary S. Vasilash
Editor-in-Chief, Automotive Design & Production
“Steel, in particular, has redoubled its efforts,” Paul Spevetz, product marketing manager, Automotive Interior/Exterior for Ticona Engineering Polymers (ticona.com), acknowledges, speaking to the issues of the greater deployment of plastics in automotive applications, particularly on exteriors.When it comes to interiors, plastics have a solid position.
Several plastic makers are now producing components and subsystems once considered the sole domain of steel and-yes-even aluminum. Thermoplastic can mean up to a 30 to 40% weight reduction over equivalent metal components in many under hood applications, but cost reductions have gained the most attention. That's right: plastic components being cost competitive with metal.
When the National Plastics Exposition rolls into Chicago, equipment manufacturers come up with some new or better ways to process plastics. Here's a look at what some of the builders exhibited.
Chrysler is on the fast-track to the 21st century with the ESX2, a polymer-intensive vehicle that, if all goes well, could be ready for volume production by 2003.
Chrysler Corp. is undertaking, in cooperation with a group of suppliers, a project to determine the feasibility of producing low-cost, thermoplastic vehicles for Third World markets. What they are learning may have big effects on the way conventional cars are produced everywhere.
The Rinspeed Inc. (rinspeed.eu/en/) BamBoo concept car—an electric vehicle powered by a 54-kW motor from the Fräger Group (fraeger-gruppe.de) that’s claimed to move the 1,090-kg vehicle to a top speed of 120 km/h—does contain small amounts of bamboo (a thread used on the interior is made with it). But by in large, it is made out of a variety of other materials, such as steel for the chassis and composites for the body and aluminum for the wheels.
One of the suppliers is Ticona (ticona.com), which provided a variety of materials to Rinspeed for the car.