Official: China's car industry needs cooperation, government support to boost use of lightweight plastics

Rebecca Kanthor
PLASTICS NEWS CORRESPONDENT

Published: November 25, 2013 2:55 pm ET
Updated: November 25, 2013 3:00 pm ET

Image By: Rebecca Kanthor Cao Du, the executive chairman of the International Green Auto Lightweight Technology Alliance and a research executive at Chinese car maker Chang'An

Related to this story

Topics Automotive, Sustainability

SHANGHAI — The head of a technology alliance focused on making cars in China lighter by replacing metals with plastics is calling on more cooperation between Chinese car companies and more support from the government to fully develop the market.

Cao Du, the executive chairman of the International Green Auto Lightweight Technology Alliance and a research executive at Chinese car maker Chang'An, told a recent industry forum that Chinese companies need to put more pressure on the government and work more closely with each other to share knowledge.

"Lighter cars are the key strategy for China and its automobile industry," he said in a speech to delegates at the International Auto Lightweight Plastics and Innovative Materials Development Forum, held Nov. 19-21 in Shanghai.

But Cao said the government favors the aeronautics industry over the car industry for composites materials research, and he also faulted industry for not sharing enough resources.

"The government is not conscious of the important role that composite plays in making lighter cars," Cao said in an interview with Plastics News.

He added that government-financed institutes do not provide detailed planning and investment in this area.

The technology alliance Cao heads includes global resin suppliers like Rhodia SA, DSM NV and Arkema, along with large Chinese car makers like Chang'An and Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd. The alliance is organized under the Shanghai-based Sino-European Union Chemical Manufacturers Association, which provides administrative support.

Cao is also vice president of Chang'an Automobile Group Co. Ltd.'s Global R&D Center in Chongqing, China.

At the forum, Cao called for original equipment manufacturers to encourage lightweighting and suggested they write a white paper on the subject.

By the end of the forum, he told Plastics News that informal talks between several of the companies resulted in an agreement to form a committee of OEM car makers to work together and share knowledge on lightweighting projects.

Four state-owned car makers plan to put together a proposal to the government to support the formation of this committee within the next few weeks, he said.

Cao said that in the OEM discussions, the group realized, for example, that almost all the participants were working on carbon fiber reinforced plastic hoods.

"We discussed why couldn't we share the technical difficulties and share the workload or share the achievements," Cao said. "That would be better. We haven't figured out the best way but what we discussed is based on the North American experience."

The new committee will work together and make future 5 year plans and assign workloads to different OEMs, he said.

Cao called the agreement a sign that the alliance is seeing greater participation by Chinese OEMs. He said in the past few Chinese OEMs made sample components making more use of plastics.

"This year, however, is different," he said. "Yet to make things happen we must [have] a comprehensive chain of industry. The good news is that some general manufacturers are working with… suppliers and have made some achievements."

He said that while the gap in the use of plastics between Chinese and foreign-made cars remains, with many Chinese cars using 30-40 kg (66-88 lbs.) less plastic per car, it is an optimistic time for the IALTA alliance.

"Clearly, we are lagging behind. Yet I think it is relatively easy for us to bridge gap and this is what we should do now because OEMs are located in China and the materials they use are also from China," he said. "We should replace steel with plastic composites that have been ignored by us in past production."

"Lightweight cars are inevitable," he said. "We must take this road or we will be left behind."

China has led the world in car production for the last five years, and should seize the opportunity to move forward in the technology, he said.

"Not only should the government support lightweight cars but also the whole industry should form a vigorous chain of industry," he said. "When we act as one, we will have greater say and in turn win the government's support."


Comments

Official: China's car industry needs cooperation, government support to boost use of lightweight plastics

Rebecca Kanthor
PLASTICS NEWS CORRESPONDENT

Published: November 25, 2013 2:55 pm ET
Updated: November 25, 2013 3:00 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Vinyl siding's lead slips, but industry pushing back

July 29, 2014 2:04 pm ET

Vinyl siding continues to be the top cladding choice for home builders and remodelers but fiber cement is gaining ground — at an alarming rate...    More

Image

Magna expanding interiors site in Slovakia

July 29, 2014 1:47 pm ET

Magna International Inc. plans to nearly double the size of its manufacturing facility in Trnava, in western Slovakia, to accommodate new automotive...    More

Magna hiring at two Michigan locations

July 28, 2014 11:43 am ET

Magna Interior Trim Components is adding a total of 169 jobs to two of its Michigan manufacturing facilities.    More

Image

Bioplastics maker wins government funding

July 25, 2014 12:13 pm ET

Canadian bioplastics maker Solegear Bioplastics Inc. has won $1.6 million in funding from the government-sponsored Western Innovation Initiative...    More

Image

Report: biodegradeable plastics use in Europe to grow 12 percent

July 25, 2014 10:25 am ET

The biodegradable plastics market in Europe is forecast to witness 12 percent compound growth during 2014-19, according to TechSci Research's “E...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recyclers Data Report & Directory

This exclusive MS Excel database contains all the companies from Plastics News' ranking of top North American Recyclers and Brokers by reprocessed volume and also includes a directory with materials processes, services offered and company contact information. Data is based on primary research by PN editorial staff.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events