Ford Takes Plastic Resins from Concept to Production to Increase the Efficiency of Its Cars

In order to help automotive OEMs meet key environmental challenges such as fuel economy and emission targets, high-performance Noryl GTX* resins from SABIC Innovative Plastics are moving from Ford concept vehicles into series production. The all-new Ford Kuga, Ford’s first entry into the crossover segment, represents the first Ford-branded vehicle on the road with plastic fenders molded from SABIC Innovative Plastics’ lightweight, impact-resistant, and recyclable Noryl GTX resin. The Kuga also features the automaker’s first production energy absorber for pedestrian protection, molded of tough, lightweight, Xenoy* resin.

SABIC Innovative Plastics’ high-tech materials helped Ford trim down the weight of the Kuga to boost fuel economy and reduce emissions. For example, manufacturing the front fenders from Noryl GTX resin cut the Kuga’s weight by 2.0 kg compared to steel. Equally important, the resin enables greater design freedom, allowing Ford to create a stunning new vehicle noted for its muscular presence and athletic styling.

“Our investment in lightweight solutions such as Noryl GTX resins gives the auto industry new material choices to help reduce environmental impacts while delivering outstanding performance,” said Derek Buckmaster, global market director, Exterior Body & Glazing, SABIC Innovative Plastics, Automotive. “And our Xenoy resins are continuing to win new customers, both for concept cars and series production vehicles, thanks to their demonstrated value to designers and tier-1 suppliers. SABIC Innovative Plastics’ pioneering technologies can help solve today’s automotive challenges of weight reduction, regulatory compliance, and design without sacrifices.”

Plastic Fenders That Can Be Treated Like Steel

SABIC Innovative Plastics’ Noryl GTX resin was selected to replace steel in the Ford Kuga for a number of reasons. First, the resin can withstand the high temperatures required during the painting process, enabling Ford to utilize its normal on-line body painting process without special handling, and ensuring a perfect color match with the rest of the car's body. Noryl GTX resin is also conductive, allowing high paint-transfer efficiency during the painting process and avoiding the added cost of pre-painting with a conductive primer. Further, the use of thermoplastics significantly expands design options vs. stamped sheet metal.

Noryl GTX blends polyamide (PA) and modified polyphenylene ether (PPE) polymer technologies, combining the dimensional stability, low-water absorption, and heat resistance of PPE with the chemical resistance and flow of PA. The result is an extremely chemically resistant material with the stiffness, impact resistance, and heat performance required for on-line painting.

The Kuga also makes use of SABIC® STAMAX long-glass-fiber-reinforced polypropylene product in the tailgate inner structure.

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