At the 2011 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, the major automakers unveiled an array of new products, features, and designs, many made possible by plastics.
The Plastics Make it Possible® team covered all the major announcements to identify some exciting and innovative trends from this year’s show.
Technology: Most major manufacturers introduced or enhanced in-car computer interfaces, enabling consumers to use cars much like smartphones. The new MyFord Touch™ gives drivers easy access to temperature controls, music, phone, GPS and more, thanks in part to SABIC’s Lexan polycarbonate cover that allows drivers to easily see command buttons. The MyFord Touch system also uses SABIC’s Noryl GTX, a plastic composite, to create thinner and lighter wiring, making room for additional features.
Carbon fiber-reinforced plastic: As automakers work to create more fuel efficient vehicles, we are seeing increased use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic in high-end vehicles. For example, the Porsche 918 RSR (Autoweek’s pick from the NAIAS) has a an exterior structural shell that’s made from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. And Mercedes Benz has pledged to increase its use of composite materials, including carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, to help create more fuel efficient vehicles.
Quiet rides: One of the hallmarks of a true luxury vehicle is a smooth and quiet ride. Buick solidified its luxury bona fides with the new Verano that boasts one of the quietest rides in this market, thanks in part to plastics. The Verano features nylon baffles filled with sound-absorbing foam in various hollow portions of the body. Chrysler placed two carbon fiber-reinforced plastic underbody panels in its 300 that are designed to block road noise.
Unique features: Automakers designed some one-of-a-kind features using plastic. Ford recently introduced inflatable seat belts in the rear of some models that act as airbags in an impact, cushioning a passenger’s midsection. The new Prius V, a larger, family-friendly model, features a glazed polycarbonate moonroof. Usually made of glass, the plastic moonroof is 40 percent lighter than glass, which lightens the load on this hybrid.
For more information about the North American International Auto Show, visit their website at www.naias.com.