1397. Outlook for Polyolefins in Automotive Applications


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T S Dr. Karmo, H Johnson: 1397. Outlook for Polyolefins in Automotive Applications. 1981.



The biggest technical challenge the auto industry has faced in its history is simultaneously meeting the fuel economy, anti-pollution and safety requirements. It is demanding the single most concentrated financial commitment to new production facilities, tooling and engineering effort ever made by the automotive industry.
Rising to the challenge is an industry which has been technologically conservative and has relied heavily on traditional materials and high volume production methods to provide its customers with reliable, low cost, personal transportation. The plastic industry which now sells about 5% of its output to the auto industry, has a vital role to play in helping the auto industry meet this challenge by substituting plastics for the traditional materials used by the automotive industry.
If by model year 1985 we to experience an increase in automotive plastic usage of 80 pounds per vehicle from the 1979 figure of 190 pounds per vehicle, it could mean an increase in plastic resin and component sales of almost 1 billion pounds. Such a conservative growth rate in automotive use of plastics represents an average increase of about 7% per year which is slightly below 8-9% growth rate which some analysts1 anticipate for the plastic industry as a whole over the next 5 to 6 years.
Polyurethanes, thermosetting polyester and polypropylene will primarily benefit from this increase in use of automotive plastics for these materials, and polyolefines in particular, it could be a period of extremely rapid growth, not only in material poundage, but in materials performance and processing sophistication.
Today, I would like to examine the current state of automotive usage of polyolefines, the specific areas in which they are used and could (potentially) grow, and explore some of the factors which could limit this growth.


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