With lawmakers ratcheting up fuel-economy targets in the U.S. and other key markets, automakers and their suppliers find themselves challenged to meet these heightened standards without sacrificing vehicle performance or driving up costs. Some materials and processes can lighten the load but require unacceptable real-world tooling or production cost changes.
That's why Plastics News next month is organizing its second annual Plastics in Lightweight Vehicles event in North America. Set for Nov. 6-7 in the Detroit suburb of Livonia, Mich., the conference will cover customer requirements and supplier strategies for achieving global fuel-economy standards, while focusing on product deliverability, quality and cost for all members of the supply chain.
PN is again partnering with the Society of Plastics Engineers' Automotive Division, which will hold its annual Automotive Innovation Awards Competition & Gala nearby on the evening of Nov. 7.
Addressing technical topics as well as market trends, PLV conference presenters will assess the role plastics can and will play in interiors, seating, structural powertrain and under-the-hood components, as well as in electric and hybrid vehicles.
Consultant Kim Korth, president and owner of IRN Inc., will set the tone with the keynote address, looking at “Achievable Lightweighting Under Time and Cost Constraints.”
Others assessing materials and process advances will include executives from Plasan Carbon Composites, Johnson Controls Inc. and Bayer MaterialScience LLC. Altair Engineering Inc. will discuss its new Enlighten Award, designed to honor achievements in lightweighting.
Michael Omotoso, senior manager for global powertrain at LMC Automotive US Inc., will examine the broader business impacts of rising fuel-economy standards, while officials from automakers Lotus Engineering and Tata Technologies Ltd. will analyze, respectively, updated research related to lightweighting efforts, and how electric vehicles are likely to impact vehicle design and material choice.
Oliver Kuttner is founder and CEO of Edison2, the $5 million winner of the Mainstream Class of the Automotive X-Prize competition for its Very Light Car vehicle. Kuttner will describe his firm's ambitious plans to move the VLC from a competition prototype toward a safe, comfortable, highly efficient car — and the lessons that others can learn and apply from those efforts.
Tier 1 suppliers Magna International Inc., IAC Group and Inteva Products LLC will discuss the latest developments in auto interiors, to include electronics and sound quality. A panel of experts from toolmaker and processor Proper Group International, injection press supplier KraussMaffei Corp., and materials/process provider Trexel Inc. will discuss successful examples of how microcellular injection foaming technology is taking weight — but not strength — out of current production vehicles.
For program details or to register, visit plasticsnews.com/plv2012. Automaker attendees who buy one registration get a second delegate pass for free. The program starts at 9:15 a.m. on Nov. 6, to allow delegates time to vote that morning.