What are the pros and cons of plastic cars?
by wcunning - 6/6/07 1:57 PM
In my recent column, The plastic transparent car, I wrote about increasing use of plastics in car body panels. Would you buy a car with a plastic body?
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by: wcunning June 6, 2007 1:57 PM PDT
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there are pros and cons with plastic and metal
Plastic does burn. But most of the time, it will just deform and melt when exposed to heat. In a major car fire fueled by gasoline, all the plastics and cloth materials will burn. But I agree with the aluminum statement you made.
As far as the paneling goes, unless you use 1/4 of wrought iron, no material will provide any significant protection, not plastic, steel, composites, etc. The frame and bumpers obviously need to be made of a sturdy material such as steel.
The point of being off-topic, read the end of my last post or two on this forum. I suggested moving the conversation to a more appropriate forum and staying closer to topic. When dealing with automobile industry and oil concerns, politics are inevitably going to be discussed. But I agree they should be on the topic, not right vs left B.S.
There are cheap composites that are lighter than steel but stronger, such as foam infused aluminum. These kind of things could greatly increase fuel economy and safety at the same time. The trouble is getting auto companies to produce such things.
Thanks for the input though.
Canada's health care isn't perfect, however people are not flying to the U.S.A. for treatment. (that's nonsence) If you asked any Canadian they would complain somewhat about the system, however 95% of them would not ever give it up to have a system like the U.S. In fact that is one comment everyone has "at least it's not like the U.S. system". The way they see it at least everyone gets treated, you don't have to pay through the nose, it doesn't discriminate. Just show your health card at a hospital and you are treated like every other person walking in and that is at every hospital. They can't turn you away for any reason. We hear horror stories of people from Canada having accidents in the U.S. and having to pay the bill (immediately if you didn't spend some big bucks for additional health coverage before leaving Canada) Why on earth would I want to fly to the U.S.A. for treatment and I don't know anyone in Canada who ever has. Maybe if you are talking about a very wealthy individual. We have some of the best hospitals in the world. I was at one and people there were from the U.S. getting treatment because they heard of it and it was less expensive to get the best treatment.
What are you talking about?!? I am a physician and I see first hand how the U.S. works. I also see Canadians coming down here for surgery because the care is better and takes less time to get access to it. Also, contrary to popular belief, people do not get turned away in this country. I work in a county hospital and we take care of all people who come in, even illegal immigrants without worrying about how they are going to pay for it first! The horror stories are told to Canadians so they won't mind that it takes months to take that colon cancer out or get some other procedure done. So you might ask somebody who is a health care worker in the US before you start telling stories. Our system has some problems but it is the best we have for a country of our population. The Canadian system would be a disaster down here.
Doctors always make that argument. Universal healthcare means being a public servant. Who wants public servant salaries?
Yes, they do make that argument, because it's right. Look, right now Doctors come here from all over the world. Why? Because they actually get paid for what they do. In some places in the world, like Africa and the Middle East, they leave their homes to come here... because they don't get paid there, and they do here.
Now if you adopt their system, do you think the best doctors are going to keep coming here? Nope, they'll go someplace else and you'll whine about how our doctors botch more surgeries, but at least it'll be cheap health care.
If you want good health care, it costs money. If you want it cheap or free, then be ready for crappy service. Some hospitals in France have no AC and rooms have 3 or 4 people in them year round. But hey it's free, hope you get sick only in winter and don't get claustrophobic.
HMO health insurance is cheap because the service sucks. "I got it, lets make everyone use an HMO"... yeah it's called "universal health care".
I've heard stories about people complaining about our Canadian health care waiting times. I feel it must be just a story because in all my 58 years of living in Canada I've never met even one person in my entire life(out of 1000's and 1000's) that has traveled to the U.S. to get medical treatment. Anyone I've ever talked to has comented that they would never want to be caught in the U.S. without health insurance. Maybe a person can get treatment down there but I don't believe anyone would be let off of paying for it afterwards. The people that I've known that have had accidents down there tried their best to return home to a Canadian hospital which was covered by Canadian health insurance. The daily rates of hospitalization were too high for them. Unless you are rich or have some kind of U.S. insurance coverage why would you travel to the U.S. to get treatment. Yes, I see why a physician would say the Canadian system would not work down in the U.S. The physicians and politicians are the main complainers of our system. The physicians because they cann't raise rates easily (the government won't let them)and the politicians to win votes. Physicians that may want to move to the U.S. think it's great because they can make more down there. I see why you say it wouldn't work for you. Your poor that cann't afford health insurance may not see it that way. I have two people in my neighbourhood that have had colon cancer in the last few years and they got treatment quickly and see their physician regularly (so I'm sure there is no waiting for them). They are getting some kind of treatment almost every time I talk to them. The person across the street had a double bypass and a new heart valve last week. (no waiting there) Ontario has some of the world's best hospitals and I and anyone I know (or have met in 58 years) wouldn't trade the system for anything. I'm sure it can be improved so it's great that there are critics of it. We all like our system up here and everyone would like improvements to it but just try voting it out (90% or more would say "no way")
This is an FYI about Canadian health care.
The following article is one of dozens I've read.
Short reprint of one section:
For example, the Canadian think tank, the Fraser Institute, found that, for patients requiring surgery, the total average waiting time from the initial visit to the family doctor through to surgery was 17.7 weeks, a significantly more than the 16 weeks found in 2001.1 Median waiting times remain higher in every category than are deemed clinically reasonable median waiting times by physicians in 2005. (Fraser Institute, 2005, Chart 14.) Overall, 85 per cent of median waiting times are higher than clinically reasonable waiting times. (Fraser Institute, p. 27.)
In 2005 Canadians waited 12.3 weeks for an MRI scan, 5.5 weeks for a CT-scan and 3.4 weeks for an ultrasound. (Fraser Institute, Chart 16.) In 2002, Canada had fewer CT scanners per 1,000 population than the OECD average (10.8 compared with 19). Similarly, it had only 4.7 MRI scanners per 1,000 population compared with an OECD average of 7.9. Unsurprisingly, many choose to fly south to the US for diagnosis and treatment.
Canada ranked 24th out of 27 OECD countries in 2002 for the number of doctors per 1,000 population. It had 2.3 compared with an OECD average of 2.9.
This is one section of one article in dozens about the problems with Canadian health care. Most people with minor problems have no issues with Canada's health care system. Of course everyone likes free, until you have a problem that causes you to be on a waiting list.
One article from the Heritage Foundation quoted a Canadian news paper that related that there is a max quota of CT-scans every day. Once that number is reached, no more CT-scans are allowed to be done. One hospital reopened the CT-scan for, of all things, pets. A pet owner could bring in their dog to get a CT-scan for money, but a person suffering pain that needed a CT-scan had to wait 6 weeks because of Government refusing to pay for more scans. One man who needed a CT-scan and was put on a 6.5 week waiting list, showed up after hours and offered to pay for a CT-scan. They refused because it was illegal under the law.
The above poster is correct, not many people fly to the US for health care, but that is only because they have no money to do so. Those that do, do. One Canadian government official checked into the government run hospital with chest pains. After being put on a 2 week waiting list, he bought an air ticket, flew to the US, check into a hospital, and got the scan in a US hospital, on the same day he was told 2 weeks by the Canadian hospital.
There are good aspects to a government run health system, namely you pay nothing. But there are many many bad aspects. So people take their pick.
You dont pay the world price for fuel at the pump,thats aggro to the rest of the world..
I do not follow your logic. Crud oil prices are directly influenced by the world crud oil market. In a sense we do pay the world prices for oil.
What do we know?
Things I would like to know: Are these plastics volatile (still giving off carcinogenic vapors)? What risks will public safety personnel face when the hydrogen powering these cars bursts into flames? Do these plastics become brittle after 15 years of exposure to sun in Arizona? Can these plastics be recycled again? Or are they to be ground up and put in a landfill causing unknown future problems for the water table? Or are they to be sent off to the world's poorest places for poisonous recycling like our electronics? If we ask, would GE's plastics division now sold to a petroleum related Saudi Arabian company give us honest answers? I'll bet we really don't know anything about this stuff.
There are some good questions there. As to the plastic volatility question.... there are some very good studies that say that any car with the 'new car' smell is dangerous, the plastics are still giving out carcinogens into the air during the period when it has that smell to it.
Do these plastics become brittle after long exposure to the sun? I don't think they do, my parents had an old Chevy Blazer that was made at the beginning of the 'plastics age' that was almost 15 years old when the brakes failed and my father said it wasn't worth getting it fixed because it was rusting out in places. The plastics were fine, a little cracked on the dashboard and faded out from sun exposure, but not brittle where you could pick pieces off of it.
As to the "Can these be recycled again?" question.... I think they can. I think they are already recycling the outside of cars, though don't hold me to it, I could be wrong about what the guy told us when I wrecked my parents 1990 Chevy Blazer recently.
yes everything inside the car gives off fumes some of the are not-so-bad and some of them are just bad. the flexibilizers used to make plastics and foams, well flexible, have been know to be bad for you. have you ever had to wash the inside of the car windows because of a greasy film??? and you don't smoke??? it probably a film of poly-isocyanites. that a big word but do any of you notice the reference to a small word in the middle???? cyani.... it is very closely related to cyanide. that chemical is the reason i now sit here working on PC.s waiting for joint surgery after joint surgery instead of out there repairing automobiles
Some of the 50 year plus old buses and coaches made with fibreglass are still tobe found as either tourist vehicles or in preservation
I really think there is so much of it all around you it does not look any different on the visiable side so you just dont give it a second.
thought.. Yes if you look in the engine box of a bus or the destination box you may see its all rough and fibers while the outter side is all smooth..In the UK its hard to give the expected working life years its often more to do with the like of engines and gear boxes and chassis than bodies that give types a short life of 12 years but many types remain in daily full time service 22-25 years...
Some good questions there
I don't know about today's plastics, but my mother had a 1966 Chevy II Nova that looked like new when it was 25 years old, but the rear window inside trim was made of plastic and crumbling on the rear package shelf at the time.
You make some good points, but...
To begin with, hydrogen is no more dangerous than petroleum based fuels. It can ignite at a slightly lower temperature than gasoline, but not enough to make it unstable. As far as exploding, it will be less violent than gasoline, because there would be far less of it.
Second, since plastic has been used it cars for several years now, Im pretty sure that we would know if it is more brittle. Besides, we already know that it is not nearly as strong as the metal bodies (although, it has its benefits: doesnt dent, shatters on impact not transferring motion, etc)
But, I do think that we need to remember the fact that plastic is made from petroleum. If we want to reduce our dependency on foreign oils, adding hundreds of pounds of plastic to our cars wont help.
What O.S. will it use?
I am a geek. So I am more interested in what kind of non windoze O.S. it will use.
They don't use either Windows or Linux...
The operating system in a car is STILL the nut behind the wheel (LOL!)
What are the pros and cons of plastic cars?
So plastic bodies are lighter and save fuel, but what's the net effect of using petroleum to make those plastics compared with how much is saved in the form of fuel? It could be robbing Peter to pay Paul. There's also the pollution factor of making plastic vs making steel to be considered as well as the relative environmental cost of recycling each material. Also, what happens to a plastic roof if a car flips over in an accident and it slides along the road? How durable is plastic in that situation? Car manufacturers and regulators need to be sure they look at the long-term big picture, not a short-term, superficial benefit.
$SUV$ (Stupid User Vehicle)
HUMMERS, plus the SUVS, add a cup of a Soccer Mom, add a half dozen kids, add potato chips and soda pop for taste then blend in celphones and puppy dogs with babies in their car seats for a surprise taste then stir them all together and you have created a heaping mass of trouble with DOOM written all over it (along with stupidity).
Trouble when the soccer mom is disturbed by all of the confusion, gets priorities all disarranged and blows a red light with her massive leviathan battle wagon (that she's way too small and unexperienced to handle in the first place) with that massive heavy steel ladder frame under the body and being a good two plus feet higher than a normal vehicle called a "CAR", decides to broadside a car and kill the occupants inside that didn't have a chance in hell to escape do to them being decapitated by the bumper of that road battle wagon since it hit higher in the side and smashed through the CAR's window...
She gets out of her death machine and wonders why that CAR blows a red light and she had to hit him....(typical situation, she's NEVER at fault...it's the other guy who's to blame...)
..til the courts charges her with vehicular homicide...
"OH, the big safe vehicle called the SUV - protects families and the drivers...along with protecting their stupidity thinking that they are in a vehicle that is like the TITANIC ... unsinkable
(but, it's fun watching SUVS on icey roads...dang, saw lots of them slide off the freeways during the winter..."OH, the drivers think that they can't slide in their SUV's, for it a four wheel drive vechicle...DOAH, dumb people-you are creating more problems when a set of wheels can't freewheel to aid in controlling a vehicle!")
Yep, a vehicle like that big ship - top heavy, center of gravity way the boofoo up there, sucks gas to please the IRAQUI's and let alone being a credit card and lease payment trap: really pushing on that toilet handle and flushing the toilet every month.
Boy, does the automakers really love stupid people since stupid people have no sense of reality and rather live in a fantasy world. Thus, it's a supply and demand situation with the automakers and laughing all the way to the bank with the huge profits they're getting selling vehicles to stupid people....
....where stupid people need to wake up and tell the automakers that they are in charge and control of the situation and the automakers better make more fuel efficent,better designed and safe vehicles..for right now, the automakers and the oil companies are in control of this society and are laughing all the way to the bank
The questions you ask have been answered and discussed on some of the above posts. You have valid questions and they should be adressed. Also, these posts are from regular people in different specialties, just like you and me, so take them with a grain of salt and do some research if you want the truth. Or you could just trust the opinion of a person that sounds educated or at least intelligent.
Pollution & Petroeluem usage
I understand your point, but it's pretty obvious that you have never been in a steel mill or foundry. Sulfur, lead, gas emissions, water runoff... plus steel doesn't melt itself. After you walk out of a steel mill you would wonder if it is really made of grease, hydraulic oil and water. Don't wear white! Read up on how much water one rolling mill uses in a day to make sheet steel. If I told you then you wouldn't believe me. Water Usage = amount discharged.
My brother-in-law was going through an intersection in a Saturn Ion in the left lane. An intoxicated driver of a flatbed truck in the right lane decided at that time he wanted to make a left hand turn in front of my brother-in law. My brother-in-law was not hurt at all but the fairly new car incurred quite a bit of damage to the front right fender and hood, $4500 worth in fact. I would have considered that totaled and sent it to the junkyard. He called his insurance company who provided him with a talking rental car, much larger than his, of course. I just knew it was going to take weeks to repair that damage. This happend on a Monday night and by Friday he had the Ion back looking just like new! I couldn't believe it! They checked, everything mechanically was undamaged. They had all the parts in stock and all they did was replace them and paint them.
This could be true of any car regardless of constuction material used. As long as the replacement pannels are in stock, the fixes are quick and easy.
A cars ability to with stand a hit, has to be viewed over a wide angle, not judged on one single accident. In most cases a plastic car will incur more damage. This is because in a hit, the plastic absorbs less of the force, which is then passed on to the only metal in the car, that being the frame. In many, not all, cases, a bent frame totals the car.
As with plastic though, a metal pannel would be the same. Unbolt it, send it to the manufacture to be re-pressed or fixed, and pop a replacement pannel on the car after you paint it.
You do not send metla panels back to the factory to be repressed. You put on a new panel and throw the bad one away.
For that matter, most metal body panels are spot welded in place, I believe. Removing a body panel is a major operation.
That doesn't seem to square with what I've seen. Now, I'm no body shop worker. I never did body repair. But if I remember right the guy at the dealership said he would just remove the panel and send it back to the factory. *shrug* As far as replacing, the new panel went back on the same way. No welding was needed.
I think newer constructions methods make replacing panels easy, not what material was used. Sadly, I don't have that guys number, and we've parted ways. So I can't call him up and ask him.
my guess is that the panel in question was a bumper cover and he was actually sending it to someone to be "reconditioned". i have never heard of an actual "factory" panel being repaired by the factory. the insurance industry is responsible for that because of the lower cost to do repairs. reconditioned can mean anything from " we cut three damaged bumpers apart and glued them together to make one "good" one" to someone heating the panel up and working out a damaged area. i would take a used OEM panel over a reconditioned one every day of the week! OH, the nightmares i have seen!!!!!!
The combination of different metals and plastics is used to achieve minimum costs and maximum safty. By combining different materials car manufacteres create deformation points and zones designed to absorb the maximum of impact possible. So, in the past, when cars were truly harder than they are now, the one who took the entire crash impact was the passenger. Now, the energy absorbed in the impact is deviated into deforming the car and not breaking your bones.
you are exactly correct but the major drawbacks come back into play. crumple zones don't repair and that leads to higher repair and insurance costs
Most truck cabs are a one peice fiberglass unit since the 1950s likewise roofs of buses someone earlier asked about tip over accidents the roofs stand up ok to that
The idea of plastic cars is ideal in most every way. Reusable or recyclable panels. Non dinging or denting in the every day world. No rust and always looks new compared to the tuna can tin body panels on todays vehicles.
It just make plain good sense. So how about trucks also using plastic or composite body panels. Why not? The only metal that may be argued as needed would be the pickup bed and walls. The entire outer skin could and should be plastic. Plastic body panels are strong and in conjunction with a well designed frame and cage, they are stronger than their tin counter parts. Oh and when I say tuna can tin I mean that is all they are. You cant even lean on a car or truck and have a conversation with someone without leaving an arm or elbow distortion in the panel. They offer zero protection in an accident and in fact may cause more damage as far as injuries then a plastic panel vehicle. I know there are still a steel lobby and unions as well as over seas steel deals that weigh heavy in what your vehicle is made from. If they offered a plastic body panel pickup with a small yet powerful diesel like a Dakota or Frontier/Tacoma I would buy it yesterday. Its time to forgo the useless tin panels and get with the future.