DUSSELDORF, GERMANY (Oct. 28, 6:30 a.m. EST) – Basell Polyolefins quietly is dropping its Hivalloy resin product line, after trying for nearly a decade to commercialize the high-performance olefinic alloys. The polypropylene material, designed for use in engineering resin applications, was blended with different monomers, including acrylic and styrene.
“We haven't been successful in the market,” conceded Basell President and Chief Executive Officer Volker Trautz said of Hivalloy at the K 2001 trade show in Germany. “We couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he added, noting that the line will be phased out at the end of this year. Basell did not initially mention this development during its K press conference, but acknowledged it after being asked why Hivalloy was not listed in its latest product brochures.
Launched with much fanfare in the mid-1990s by Montell Polyolefins, one of Basell's predecessor companies, Hivalloy engineering resins were targeted for use in automotive and other industries. During the summer of 1998, Chrysler Corp. said it was testing both Hivalloy and a glass-reinforced PET blend from Ticona GmbH as the possible body-panel material for an all-plastic-bodied car it hoped to have on the road by 2003.
Montell invested heavily in the Chrysler project, developing at least five iterations of Hivalloy for the automaker, and creating an alloy that grafted onto an acrylic instead of a polyphenylene sulfide material. And, as recently as early last year, DaimlerChrysler AG was road-testing white hardtops for 2001-model Jeep Wranglers injection molded out of Hivalloy on an 8,800-ton press at Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd.'s technical center in Novi, Mich. But the resin maker said then it had no written contract for that project.
Basell, based in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, was created as a 50/50 joint venture early last year when Shell Petroleum NV and BASF AG merged their Montell NV, Targor GmbH and Elenac businesses. The polyolefins giant now employs about 8,000 people, operates plants in 18 countries, and generates sales of approximately $6 billion dollars.