DETROIT — Plastics crossed over into another all-metal automotive part at SAE '98 in Detroit when BASF Corp. introduced the auto industry's first foot-activated plastic parking-brake pedal.
The Mount Olive, N.J., firm also introduced nylon air intake manifolds used in Chrysler's 3.2-liter and 3.5-liter V-6 aluminum engines in 1998 and 1999 model vehicles, and it displayed the 1998 Mercedes-Benz M-Class sport utility vehicle, which uses BASF products in 13 different applications.
The parking-brake pedal, made of a 40 percent glass-fiber-reinforced grade of BASF's Ultramid-brand nylon 6 resin, is smaller and weighs one-half pound less than its metal counterpart. The new pedal is featured on 1998 models of the Chrysler Concorde, LHS, 300M and Dodge Intrepid.
The one-piece injection molded part is also a change from two-part metal construction. Montaplast of North America molded the pedal at its Frankfort, Ky., plant. The brake system then was assembled by Dura Automotive Systems Inc. of East Jordan, Mich.
Only 65 pounds of force is needed to use the pedal, while previous models needed more than double that amount, according to BASF officials. This reduction in stored energy reduces fly-back energy and brake release noise, officials said.
``Nylon had the load requirements needed,'' BASF applications development engineer Michael Kronell said in a Feb. 24 interview at SAE '98. ``That was important because if you put 300 pounds of pressure here, that equals 1,200 pounds of pressure on the brake.''
BASF has supplied nylon for accelerator pedals, but foot pressure on a parking brake pedal can be as much as 300 percent higher. The firm boosted the amount of glass fiber in the new pedal by 10 percent to handle the extra load.
The manifolds, made by fusible-core injection molding, are among the largest molded to date, each weighing about 10 pounds.
Solvay Automotive molded the manifolds at its Adrian, Mich., plant using a 35 percent glass-fiber-reinforced grade of BASF's nylon 6/6.
The new manifolds and engines are in the 1998 Dodge Intrepid ES and Chrysler Concorde LXi, and the 1999 Chrysler LHS and 300M.
BASF officials said the engines offer improved performance in part because the smooth inner walls of the injection molded manifold allow for minimum air-flow restriction.
Ray Ballou, BASF's marketing development specialist for GM and Chrysler powertrains, said BASF expects a 50 percent increase in the nylon manifold business in 1998 because of the reductions in tooling, product cost and part cost offered by nylon.
The Mercedes-Benz SUV, which is selling for $43,000 in the Detroit area, uses several BASF products including Luran S acrylic styrene acrylonitrile, Terluran ABS and Ultramid nylon resins in applications ranging from vent grilles to fuel pump assemblies.