The Automobiles of Okay: Quick and Livid Typically, however All the time Plastic


My first recollection of the Okay present host metropolis dates again to my teen years within the early Eighties, after I grew to become engrossed in a tune by Scottish band Associates, “White Automobile in Germany,” during which vocalist Billy McKenzie insisted that “Düsseldorf’s a chilly place.” Roll on to my first Okay Present in1992 the place I found to my amusement that Düsseldorf taxis had been truly a lighter shade of beige.

What hasn’t modified since then, to my information, is that related Mercedes taxis proceed to ply the streets of Düsseldorf and they’re nonetheless diesel-powered, which is considerably of an anachronism given the fast shift to electrical autos being seen all through Europe. Oh, and sure, with gasoline possible briefly provide in October, Düsseldorf is more likely to be a chilly place this Okay present!

Talking of autos, over time Okay has delivered its justifiable share of improvements, from high-heat supplies for turbocharge ducting to all-plastic our bodies and plastic glazing, however this 12 months, make no mistake — electrical drive chains and battery expertise will likely be excessive on the agenda, as will likely be sustainable plastics for vehicle functions. Plastics are key enablers in reducing battery prices and enhancing efficiency, that are paramount in making EVs extra inexpensive and assuaging vary anxiousness, whereas automakers are eager to decorate their inexperienced credentials although use of pure fiber reinforcements and bio-based resins.

However earlier than we hit the present flooring to substantiate our predictions this October, it’s time for a automobile journey down reminiscence lane.

— Stephen Moore

First, a detour by way of Dearborn, MI

Earlier than we get to the center of our journey in Düsseldorf, let’s cease by Dearborn, MI, house to the Ford Motor Co. and an early experiment in plastic mobility. Within the early Nineteen Forties, Henry Ford was engrossed with the potential for plastic components in vehicles, in response to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, which in the end led to the creation of what was referred to as a “plastic automobile product of soybeans.”

In reality, 14 plastic panels had been connected to a tubular metal body, in response to data on the museum’s web site. “The precise substances of the plastic panels are unknown as a result of no file of the formulation exists at present,” the location goes on to say. “One article claims that they had been created from a chemical formulation that, amongst many different substances, included soybeans, wheat, hemp, flax, and ramie; whereas the person who was instrumental in creating the automobile, Lowell E. Overly, claims it was ” . . . soybean fiber in a phenolic resin with formaldehyde used within the impregnation.”

Picture courtesy of The Henry FordFord plastic car
Solely photographs stay of the “plastic automobile product of soybeans.” Picture courtesy of the Henry Ford.

The automobile was proven at a neighborhood occasion, Dearborn Days, in 1941 and on the Michigan State Truthful later that 12 months. All auto manufacturing in america was suspended shortly after with the outbreak of World Struggle II, and when it resumed, the “plastic automobile” venture apparently was deserted. The automobile was destroyed, and all that continues to be are a number of photographs.

Now, flash ahead to 1963

In 1963, Okay grew to become a pure commerce honest, in response to the Okay web site. The primary present in 1952 featured 270 exhibitors, all from Germany, welcoming 165,000 guests, and no, that isn’t a typo! It was primarily a chance for most of the people to ogle newfangled merchandise created from the “miracle materials.” By 1963, the Okay was attracting bigger corporations presenting plastics processing expertise. That was additionally the 12 months the sports activities automobile proven right here with a polyester physique wowed guests. It’s reportedly the primary series-produced plastic physique for passenger automobiles in Germany.

Picture courtesy of Messe Düsseldorfcar with plastic body circa 1963
The automobile physique’s swooping curves are made attainable by polyester.

The polyester, underneath the model identify Vesto, got here from Chemische Werke Hüls AG, which has an enchanting pre- and post-war historical past that’s recounted in some element on the Evonik web site. Right now, the corporate is a part of Evonik Industries.

As the last decade turned groovy, so did the idea automobiles. Featured at Okay 1967, the Bayer K67 was collectively developed by Bayer AG and BMW.

Picture courtesy of CovestroK67 concept car
The Bayer K67 idea automobile.

Past the plastic physique, the so-called  “polyurethane automobile” included some improvements that, in time, can be extensively adopted by carmakers, considered one of which was the mixing of flip indicators in facet mirrors. (A fuller description of the automobile will be discovered right here.) Solely 5 fashions reportedly had been constructed, two of that are nonetheless in existence: One is on exhibit on the Deutsches Museum in Munich; the opposite one is parked at Covestro headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany. (Covestro, previously Bayer MaterialScience, was spun off by Bayer AG in 2015.)

On the 2016 occasion,  an idea automobile collectively developed by BASF and South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. included light-weight supplies from BASF, equivalent to Elastolit inflexible integral foam.

Picture courtesy of BASF/Hyundaiconcept car at K 2016
Lightweighting was a key function within the RN30 idea automobile.

Response injection molding (RIM) techniques had been developed for the physique panels, and the automobile additionally featured semi-structural sandwich options for the trunk flooring, offering a substantial weight discount in addition to a extremely environment friendly manufacturing course of. Learn our article from 2016 for extra details about this gorgeous automobile.

Re-thinking automobile interiors

Covestro was again on the Okay in 2019 with a unique tackle the way forward for vehicles. Beneath the affect of autonomous driving, automobile interiors would grow to be cellular dwelling areas and required a whole makeover.

Picture courtesy of Stephen MooreCovestro concept for car interiors
On the 2019 present, Covestro re-imagined automobile interiors within the age of autonomous driving.

Writing concerning the automobile in PlasticsToday, Stephen Moore famous: “Because the basic perform of the driving force’s seat is now not required, the automobile inside will be given a brand new look and design. Not solely ought to the seats be snug, they need to additionally supply sufficient flexibility to increase the inside area. An built-in and individually configurable lighting system ensures consolation and security and allows automobile producers to distinguish their manufacturers.”

One function that will strike a maybe unintended chord with child boomers is the movable Privateness Dome, proven right here.

Picture courtesy of Covestroconcept car interior
The Privateness Dome is movable.

It’s product of a polyurethane-based acoustic foam that envelops the passenger in a quiet area. The dome, it should be mentioned, bears a resemblance to the cone of silence from the Get Good TV sequence. (When you have no thought what I am speaking about, this will enlighten you.) Let’s hope that the Privateness Dome works higher.

Picture courtesy of Stephen MooreVisionVenture camping van
The VisionVenture automobile’s pop-top roof self-inflates in lower than 60 seconds.

As tenting is to glamping (a neologism coined for the posh tenting development), so is the common-or-garden camper van to the VisionVenture automobile featured on the BASF sales space at Okay 2019.  Greater than 20 high-performance plastics are used to manufacture the VisionVenture, developed in partnership with camper and motorhome OEM Hymer. The options are too quite a few to say right here — Stephen Moore went into nice element in his article — however only a fast phrase concerning the self-inflating pop-top roof, a world first on the time. It inflates in lower than 60 seconds and is coated with Elastollan thermoplastic polyurethane to create a water- and wind-resistant outer wall to make sure a peaceable night time’s sleep.

The time-honored custom of rolling out plastic-based idea automobiles will proceed at Okay 2022 — and PlasticsToday will likely be there to report on it — however one automobile that has already captured our consideration is the AKXY2, developed by Asahi Kasei to mark its a hundredth anniversary.

Picture courtesy of Asahi KaseiAKXY2 concept car
Coming to the Okay present this 12 months is the AKXY2 developed by Asahi Kasei. 

Within the AKXY2 (pronounced “ax-ee”), the supplies provider reimagines how values for sustainability, satisfaction, and society will affect the wants of future mobility on the highway to automation and electrification in a altering society. Stephen Moore wrote a preview again in Could, however you’ll be capable to kick the tires on this magnificence on the Okay present in Düsseldorf, Germany, from Oct. 19 to 26. Asahi Kasei is exhibiting at sales space E23 in corridor 8a.



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