TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. (Aug. 4, 12:45 p.m. ET) — An all-plastic automotive steering wheel will launch in Asia later this year, replacing a part that traditionally relied on a steel or magnesium core.
Sabic Innovative Plastics has been helping to develop the injection molded steering wheel produced with a Lexan co-polymer, said Venkatakrishnan Umamaheswaran, director of automotive for the resin supplier, during an Aug. 2 interview at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.
Further details on the steering wheel and the molder and automaker involved in the project will be released later, he said.
The typical steering wheel now in production overmolds polyurethane over a metal core. While all-plastic steering wheels have been in production in tractors and other low-speed transportation, concerns about crash tests have kept them off the road. The upcoming system meets all safety standards, Umamaheswaran said, and are 20 percent lighter.
Beyond the weight savings, the plastic allows the automaker and designers to build in new features including electronics and heating and cooling systems, he said.