Two years ago, I was dismayed when the Steel Market Development Institute was celebrating the Honda Ridgeline's victory as the Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Where were the plastics people to carry the water for the industry? Shouldn't they be the ones celebrating the truck that adopted a composite bed and made it central to its success?
Boy have things changed.
The 2019 North American International Auto Show featured several materials makers not just whispering to clients and engineers how plastic is a great material of choice, but they were screaming it. From a large booth manned by staff at Covestro LLC to a map that pointed to parts on display made with Celanese Corp. materials to lobby booths for JEC Composites and Continental Structural Plastics Inc., it was great to see plastics firms not shy away from the limelight.
Many of these companies have a real great story to tell on how their materials are advancing lighting, lightweighting cars and helping push the electrification of automobiles forward.
Celanese officials said they held unofficial walks with clients and potential clients in the past, but they wanted to put it out in the public to reach a wider audience. In several of the main entrances, there were mats on the floor instructing people to download a map to explore all the plastic content made with Celanese materials in vehicles on display.
The Covestro booth had a virtual reality headset giving visitors the chance to see what the future of the interior of the car could look like along with how Covestro materials make that happen. (You can check out the video here.)
The North American International Auto Show is going through some changes, including moving to June in 2020. Here's hoping plastics firms continue to move with it and focus on touting the material's benefits for years to come.
Carroll is assistant managing editor and video editor for Plastics News. Follow him on Twitter @jeremyscarroll.