Plastics Makers: Lower Weight Means MPG Gains

Apr 11, 2014

The American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division offered a proposal to help automakers and their suppliers enhance fuel efficiency through the adoption of plastics and polymer composites to achieve significant weight reductions, also called “lightweighting,” according to a press release.

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) joint standards set by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency require automakers to achieve more than 50 mpg in auto fleets by model year 2025.

During the Society of Automotive Engineers’ 2014 World Congress & Exhibition, plastics makers argued that wide-scale adoption of plastics and polymer composites in vehicle construction will be critical to helping automakers meet the new CAFE standards.

“The route laid out in our updated roadmap establishes a realistic, achievable path that will enable plastics and polymer composites suppliers to quickly and effectively meet the evolving needs of the automotive industry,” said Matthew Marks, chair of ACC’s Automotive Team (SABIC). “We look forward to building on our history of strong collaboration to help bring about innovative lightweighting solutions that will dramatically save weight, enhance automotive fuel efficiency, performance and value, all while maintaining safety.”

The new roadmap, “Plastics and Polymer Composites Technology Roadmap for Automotive Markets,” calls for a series of industry-wide, collaborative demonstration projects to generate data, establish predictive models and develop specifications that will improve the manufacturing and assemblage of new high-performance parts.

The pre-competitive, cooperative efforts are aimed at helping plastics and polymer composites suppliers enhance the properties of their materials and improve production efficiencies to accelerate innovations, according to the release. The goal is to enable automakers to meet and in many cases foster higher performance and sustainability for cars of the future.

“Plastics and polymer composites specialists are excited to begin working with this new roadmap,” said Gina Oliver, senior director of the Auto Team at ACC’s Plastics Division. “We look forward to supporting and contributing to a culture of collaboration up and down the automotive value chain, together with the research community and federal regulators, to take full advantage of the potential benefits that may be realized from the use of plastics and polymer composites.”

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