Wheel treatments keep evolving at Uretech International Inc., which is renovating its high-volume urethane molding line to produce its PermaStyle product. Chief Executive Officer Scott L. Murray said the move will replace Polycast wheels currently produced for Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota, Ford and Mitsubishi. The conversion will be completed by the end of the year, when the PermaStyle wheel treatments will be worked into programs for GM, Chrysler and Toyota vehicles, he said.
Polycast wheels still will be produced on a limited basis, mainly for the aftermarket accessory segment, Murray said in a telephone interview.
PermaStyle wheel treatments are created by reaction injection molding a tough, lightweight urethane foam directly onto the outside of the wheel. New proprietary technology is being installed on the molding line.
Murray said PermaStyle duplicates ``all the styling features offered by aluminum alloy wheels at a cost normally associated with wheel covers.'' Foam wheel treatments also offer corrosion resistance, durability and energy-absorption functions, and flexibility to designers.
In comparison, alloy wheels represent large price fluctuations, have high warranty costs and are subject to environmental and service damage that affects their appearance, Murray said.
Uretech, based in Luckey, Ohio, introduced early prototypes in November at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association conference, held in Las Vegas.
``Even the experts [at the conference] were having difficulty distinguishing PermaStyle from aluminum alloy wheels,'' Murray said.
Uretech's new patent-pending technology should help automakers involved in intense cost-cutting efforts aimed at suppliers, he said. Although Uretech's upgraded technology will not necessarily cut manufacturing costs, it will help automakers increase actual and perceived value of vehicles, and therefore maintain pricing levels.