Car buffs cruising the North American International Auto Show in Detroit may admire a sports car’s sleek design or the fuel economy in a compact car or a pickup truck’s torque. Few recognize the material science that goes into those vehicles, though. James Peterson, market development manager for polyurethane systems with BASF Corp., noted that urethane skins are becoming more common on instrument panels and door panels, where tooling and production breakthroughs give interiors a softer touch. BASF engineers and executives with the Wyandotte, Mich., office are also working on a variety of future programs to decrease vehicle weight through strategic use of forms and multi-layer panels. Developments in continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastics are also key in creating thin seats â€“ similar to those on multiple concept cars on display in Detroit â€“ with structural plastic replacing steel, said Lawrence Alan Berkowski, senior vice president of engineering plastics. The BASF executives talk about the plastic under the skin and plastics in future development in a video from the auto show in Detroit.