Roadshow Video Reviews
2007 LA Auto Show: SABIC Innovative PlasticsOne day soon, the concept of sheet metal in a car body might seem as quaint as kerosene headlights.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:05 >> You know, one of the coolest things about concept cars or this Hyundai QarmaQ are the amazing lines of the sheet metal. But this isn't sheet metal. This is thermal plastic, made of these, water bottles: PET class plastics that get recycled or as they say up-cycled. The company "they" is SABIC. Now SABIC used to be General Electric Plastics. They were acquired. And the SABIC Corporation now is doing SABIC Innovative Plastics. They provided the plastic panels and much of the structure for this Hyundai QarmaQ Concept Car. The breakthrough as they say are not just the skin. Let's face it; Saturn did that 17 years ago. But the structure in this hood for example is a carefully engineered structure member that allows them to build in a certain degree of strength but also a certain degree of give in the event of pedestrian impact. Now that's becoming a very big issue in global regulations, especially in Europe. Here's another example, look at this fender. Notice the very unusual shapes and very thin sections here, but no cut lines. Right down here it stays solid. If this were a metal car, you'd see some ugly cut lines here, here, or here. You know what I'm talking about. That's another part of what they say is the thermal plastic benefit. Then there's the whole environmental thing. Nine hundred of these saved because they can be used in a car like this and a 15 minute product becomes a 15 year product, as they like to say. It's a pretty good point. Now check out the glazing or the glass. Now the part of cars that they call glazing or the auto glass is also really going to change if thermal plastics take off. I mean this is Lexan. We all know Lexan: a really strong glass-like substitute. But it can take on contours of the body that traditional laminated auto glass just can't do. It's basically a pretty bland curve. They can do a lot with this. Like here on the top. This is a Lexan roof on the QarmaQ and you've got these sort of aerodynamic bubbles up here that are almost kind of retro. Again something you can't do with today's automotive laminar glass. Now the other benefit of all this of course is weight. If you want to make a car fast you can add power. If you want to make a car faster the smart way, you take out weight, and this vehicle they say generally would be about 130 pounds lighter due to the use of plastics: those 900 water bottles again. Now there's no production plan for the Hyundai QarmaQ but SABIC tells us that they're in discussions now with the auto makers, getting serious about testing and validating, if you will, these Lexan panels, these plastic panels, to put them into production, perhaps a few years hence. Now you may recall we did coverage in the past of a Hyundai Concept with an elastic front end? This is it. Now it's not elastic in the sense that it's like chewing gum, but it has engineered give for knee impact, for head impact when you hit the hood. All these things can be very carefully engineered readily with thermal plastics they tell us. And let's face it; if you've got to get run over by a car, this could be a good car to get run over by. ^M00:02:43 [ Music ]