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China, resin firms form lightweight venture

Published: December 5, 2012 6:00 am ET
Updated: December 5, 2012 12:00 am ET

A group of global resin suppliers and Chinese automobile companies have formed a technology alliance to increase the amount of plastic used in the country's cars, close the sizable gap with global auto companies and boost fuel efficiency of domestic vehicles. The International Auto Lightweight Technology Alliance, announced Nov. 28 at a conference in Hebei province, includes global plastics raw material makers Rhodia SA, DSM NV and Arkema SA, along with large domestic Chinese car makers Chang’an Automobile Group Co. Ltd., Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. and Beiqi Foton Motor Co. Ltd. The alliance’s detailed agenda is still being worked out, but with Chinese economy cars using only about 50 kilograms of plastic parts on average, compared with 130 to 180 kilograms per vehicle in the United States, Western Europe and Japan, the participants see a lot of opportunities. Chinese car makers use a higher percentage of metal components in their cars, alliance members said, and those heavier parts in turn make the cars less fuel efficient and potentially more polluting. Members of the group acknowledge they have some challenges ahead of them, however, including recruiting more Tier 1 automotive components makers, who are not present in large numbers among the more than 20 founding companies and organizations. The alliance is being organized by the Shanghai-based Sino-European Union Chemical Manufacturers Association, and its Auto Plastic and Innovative Materials Committee, which will provide administrative support.

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