One Word for Autos: Plastics

Insiders say the auto industry is headed towards a greater utilizatio of super-strong, light-weight plastics, but only slowly because they say the materials cost too much for mass-produced vehicles, and widespread use is years, if not decades, away.

Published: 20-Jan-2007

As the U.S. auto industry plots its turnaround, fighting foreign automakers for market share, a handful of industry observers say lightweight plastics are a key to rebuilding the nation's car companies.

Reinforced plastics, known as composites, are superstrong, superlight -- but still superexpensive -- materials. Composites can be found in fighter jets, race cars and even skis. They also make up some parts of the cars on display until Sunday at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center.
The materials were key in Boeing Co.'s success under current Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally in improving the fuel efficiency of a passenger jet when reinforced plastics were used for half of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

Can Mulally and others in the auto industry make similar gains with vehicles?



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