Detroit — As the future of automotive mobility and autonomy becomes clearer, advanced plastics are poised to play a significant role, industry professionals and researchers at both the American Chemistry Council and the Center for Automotive Research say.
ACC's 2020 automotive road map shows many opportunities for advanced plastics and polymer composites in future car design.
An eventual shift to personal mobility isn't possible without plastics, said Gina Oliver, senior director of ACC's automotive team, which developed the road map.
The council's plastics division also helped to develop the roadmap, released on March 3, working with researchers and the auto industry to provide insight on technological, cultural and economic trends that it says drive personal mobility and automotive innovation.
Two previous road maps focused on regulations and how ACC could help automakers use plastic and composites to improve fuel economy or lightweight a vehicle. But regulation is just "a piece of the larger puzzle," Oliver said.
"That's still certainly relevant today, but now there's so many new, different drivers happening with the revolution in personal and automotive mobility," she said.
Bernard Swiecki, director of Automotive Communities Partnership at CAR, said during Plastics News' March 23 Plastics in Automotive live session that its own technology road map, which came out in November, also shows a space for plastic development, as mild- and high-strength steels decline.
"I don't think anything here has the same explosion, in terms of growth, that you see in plastics and composites," he said. And that forecast "seems to be basically a world consensus."
The challenge for carmakers and suppliers, Swiecki said, will be "getting these materials to play nice together."