The Honda Ridgeline, known for having its composite truck bed, won the North American Truck of the Year award at this year's North American International Auto Show.
This is a big win for the plastics industry. Not only did Honda embrace the composite truck bed in the first version of the truck released in 2006, but in the updated Ridgeline (the one that won the award), doubled down. Honda improved the truck bed, making it a true centerpiece of the truck when it was unveiled last year.
So it was a big surprise when a trade association was celebrating the truck at the show, and it wasn't one supporting the plastics industry.
Instead it was the Steel Market Development Institute.
The truck was stripped down to show off all the steel on the truck. Most of the truck bed was gone, and the steel holding it up was shown. The steel industry was fighting for its material, and its members. Where were the plastics associations?
Plastics companies were there, from molders Adient, Magna International, Röchling Automotive, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, PolyOne Corp., amongst a few others. But no trade association to carry the water for the industry as a whole.
The Steel Market Development Institute doesn't make a small show of it either. Every journalist at the show -- all 5,000 them from 60 different countries -- must walk past the steel display before they get to the free food and the media center. And they hold a press conference.
The North American International Auto Show is not just a place for the automakers to show off new models. This is a time when just about every engineer in Detroit shows up, checks out what's new and talks with customers (or potential customers).
The next major step in lightweighting is structural plastics, and it seems like the steel industry is ready for the fight. I hope the plastics industry will be as well.