Livonia, Mich. — The plastics industry fanfare for General Motors Co.'s CarbonPro box isn't over yet. The Detroit automaker was recognized as a winner for the composite pickup box in two categories during the 49th annual Automotive Innovation Awards Gala, held Nov. 6 by the automotive division of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
GM won in the body exterior category and was also named this year's Grand Award winner for what is considered the automotive industry's first pickup box made of thermoplastic and carbon fiber composites. The CarbonPro box is available as an option on GMC Sierra light-duty pickup trucks. The carbon fiber box saves 62 pounds, provides best-in-class impact resistance and durability, and eliminates the need for a bedliner. The box is fully recyclable, with some scrap materials reused on the vehicle.
Continental Structural Plastics Inc. is the supplier and processor, with materials supplied by its parent company Teijin Ltd. The toolmakers are Paragon D&E, Model Die & Mold Inc., Altron Automation Inc. and Legacy Industries LLC.
SPE also announced eight other category winners, in addition to this year's Vehicle Team Engineering award, Hall of Fame award and Lifetime Achievement Award winners.
GM won the Vehicle Engineering Team Award for the composites-intensive 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Nine part nominations in this year's Automotive Innovation Awards competition were for components on the new Corvette, with two of the nominations recognized as category finalists and one recognized as a category winner.
The VETA award recognizes technical achievement of entire teams — from designers and engineers to material suppliers and toolmakers — whose work has led to "significant integration of polymeric materials on a notable vehicle," the society said.
SPE honored Ford Motor Co. with the Hall of Fame award for what it says is the first plastic-metal hybrid front-end structure on the 1999 Ford Focus. The structure is made of 30 percent glass-filled nylon resin with a steel insert. This enables a 40 percent weight savings, 30 percent cost reduction, higher function integrated with fewer process steps and higher load capacity compared with a 100 percent steel structure.
As previously reported by Plastics News, Michael Whitens, the now-retired former global director of vehicle and enterprise sciences at Ford's Research and Innovation Center, was recognized as the society's 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
Other category winners are as follows: