DETROIT (April 23, 10:40 p.m. ET) — The auto industry may soon have a strategy to avoid vehicle production interruptions that could be caused by the critical shortage of nylon 12 resin.
General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Volkswagen and 19 parts suppliers have reached a consensus on how to quickly replace the resin, according to a statement issued April 23 by the Auto Industry Action Group.
The trade group is scheduled to hold a meeting to finalize the plan on April 30, the statement said.
Nylon 12 supplies have neared critical lows after a March 31 explosion at an Evonik Industries AG chemical plant in Marl, Germany. Automakers and suppliers have been meeting to get ahold of the situation as the specter that the material shortage could halt vehicle assembly lines have grown.
According to the statement, the trade group is working to fast-track the approval process for replacement materials for use in multi-layer tubing assemblies, metal tubing and other automotive applications.
"The main objective of the workshop, held this morning, was to reach industry-wide OEM consensus on an abbreviated DVP&R that was developed and proposed by the industry technical committees working at AIAG," the statement said.
DVP&R, or design verification plan and report, is a production part approval process used in the automotive supply chain.
The statement adds: "After comprehensive review & discussion, the industry has reached general consensus on an abbreviated DVP&R- draft that has the support of the following OEMs: Chrysler, Ford, GM, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Paccar, Volkswagen and a broad cross section of the materials and component supplier community.
Companies that participated in the April 23 workshop were:
Chrysler Group LLC
Clark Hill plc
Ford Motor Co.
General Motors Co.
Hyundai - Kia
Martinrea International Inc.
TG Fluid Systems USA Corp.
TI Group Automotive Systems
Nylon 12 has taken on an increasing percentage of global auto fuel lines in recent years for several reasons, including increased use of ethanol. In most cases, replacement materials would cost a bit less than nylon 12, which sources have told Plastics News was selling for at least $5 per pound, even before the accident in Germany. The material had sold for around $4 per pound just a couple of years ago, but tightness and increased demand drove the price up, sources added.
One issue that could complicate finding a nylon 12 replacement, according to market analyst Paul Blanchard, is the ability to make fuel lines and tubing to the same dimensions as nylon 12.
“This gets more complicated because we're talking about systems with multi-layer tubes,” said Blanchard, who is with IHS Chemical in Houston. “Each has a different wall thickness, and changing material can change the critical dimensions of the part.”
Global nylon 12 production stands at no more than 100 million pounds, split between Evonik, Arkema Group, Ube Industries Ltd. and EMS-Grivory, according to Blanchard.
Automotive News staff reporter Ryan Beene contributed to this story.