Impact on climate change will be the biggest fallout from Donald Trump’s efforts to unwind strict federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions that would have required vehicles to achieve more than 50 miles per gallon on average by 2025.
Another impact will be on advanced plastics manufacturing capabilities in the United States. Efforts to develop improved lightweight composite structures for cars was already more in advanced in Europe than the United States.
There is clear danger that America will slip even further behind as a result of EPA rule changes.
In one example, there seemed to be significant energy and technology in the area of lightweighting at the International Congress of Plastics In Automotive Engineering (VDI Conference) held March 29-30 in Mannheim, Germany. Technical focus in the United States seems to be on muscle, talking cars and new levels of glitz—and that was even before the Trump presidency.
A few examples from the VDI Conference:
- The Lanxess exhibits featured lightweight, “nearly indestructible” engine compartment trims, tank covers and center tunnel covers. The flat components are polypropylene-based low-weight-reinforced thermoplastics (LWRT) molded with a 0.02-inch thick Tepex blank in a compression molding process.
- Covestro unveiled a new concept car described as the first vehicle with wrap-around glazing made of transparent polycarbonate.
- SABIC showed plastic-metal hybrid structural reinforcements for a vehicle body. A SABIC blend of polyamide and modified polyphenylene ether polymer mates with steel to reduce weight by 2.2 pounds.