Plastic & the Automobile Trifecta Fact Sheet

Learn how lightweight plastic and polymer composites play a critical role in today’s automobiles.

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Infographic: Modeling Shows Automotive Material Lightweighting Saves Lives

New advocacy graphic demonstrates the roll of plastics and composite lightweighting in maintaining safety. Research shows that as cars lightweight, weight reductions alone can reduce traffic fatalities. More aggressive weight reductions than needed to achieve current proposed CAFE standards can save even more lives.

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Automotive Research on How Lightweight Plastics Enhance Safety

NHTSA STudy Silverado front page

Investigation of Opportunities for Lightweight Vehicles Using Advanced Plastics and Composites

Pre-competitive research details opportunities for lightweighting a Silverado truck by nearly 1,000 pounds, using plastics and composite technologies available today.

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B-Pillar image for NHTSA Computer Modeling study

NHTSA High-Performance Computing Study on a Carbon Fiber Automotive "B-Pillar"

Carbon Fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) material is becoming one of the preferred solutions for vehicles to achieve overall weight reduction in order to meet fuel economy and emission standards while maintaining safety requirements and offer several advantages, including higher levels of ductility and specific energy absorption, rapid processing, and recyclability and reuse.

The objective was to investigate the tools for design, optimization and manufacture of carbon fiber thermoplastic materials for vehicle side frame structures (B-pillars) subjected to high-velocity side-impact crash loading. The study demonstrated a carbon fiber thermoplastic B-pillar offered 60 percent weight savings over the metallic baseline and satisfied the side-impact crash requirements. Also, for safety, the dynamic impact and crush response of the B-pillar was adequately modeled using computational tools.

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Innovative vehicle made from plastics

Innovations in plastics are helping make cars light, energy efficient and safe

  • A new manifold that increases horsepower 33%.
  • A front grill that saves weight and 50 of former tooling costs.
  • A single plastic part that reduces the need for 27 extra parts.
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