As Plastics News marks its 25th year of publication, we take a year-by-year look back at some of the events, people and curious coincidences that have shown up its its pages. Check back through the end of the year (not including holidays) to follow along. This year: 2003.
Pickup trucks are going upscale, with Ford debuting an overhead entertainment system for its iconic F-150. “We are going to change the expectation about what a truck can be,” says Ford executive James Padilla.
Disney is going plastics, with SPI supporting a “Fantastic Plastic” exhibit at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center. The facility will open by the start of next year
GE Plastics marks the 50th anniversary of its Lexan polycarbonate at an event attended by former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, whose helmet was made of Lexan when he walked on the moon.
Auto supplier Visteon Corp. tells its Tier 2 suppliers that not only does it want cost cuts, it expects its suppliers to pre-pay the first year worth of reductions in order to remain on the supplier list. The “prepay to play” plan is soon tossed out when the industry rejects the idea.
The auto industry is taking notice of China. GM says it saw its sales in the country triple in one year, while Volkswagen says the country will account for 15 percent of its global sales. Some forecasters are saying China could see sales approaching 14 million by 2015. Their prediction is off. China's numbers top that long before 2015 and is closer to 20 million now.
Mexican molders who had grown thanks to production moving from the U.S. there are now worried that production will move to China instead.
A global outbreak of a flu-like illness called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, is complicating global production, forcing travel bans into some areas of Asia.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. may be investing in American production now, but in 2002 its officials were telling suppliers to “suck it up” when it came to resin price increases.
General Motors is hoping to revive its struggling Saturn brand, with its thermoplastic body panels, by launching a performance version of its Ion, the Red Line.
Tornados sweep through the Midwest, causing turmoil for plastics companies. PolyOne Corp.'s plant in Dyersburg, Tenn., is hit on May 4 and a day later another storm destroys an Owens Corning fabrication plant in Springfield, Tenn.
SPI launches a petition drive to try and get legislators to recognize the economic turmoil facing the plastics industry. “We're the fourth largest industry in this country,” notes SPI's Lori Anderson, “and I don't think anybody on Capitol Hill understands that at all.”
Attendance at NPE is expected to drop nearly 20 percent this year as companies cut travel costs.