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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thats why i made my earlier post concerning closed systems. a gated community where the speeds are limited and everyone is driving the same thing would be perfect for small, high efficiency modes of transportation.
I don't think the original subject means the entire car would be plastic. A totally plastic car would be a death trap.
A tubular frame and cage with plastic panels would be the best of all worlds. A tubular cage is much stronger then the strongest old Detroit Iron. Plastic panels, if properly executed, would be very duable and cheap to replace if they did get broken. The tubular frame/plastic body combo is both the lightest and strongest possible. A 3500 Lb., 5 passenger car could drop to 2500 Lbs, and be light enough for an efficient 175hp diesel engine. Now you're talking about great performance, 50mpg, and excellent safety.
Pontiac had the right idea with the Fiero, but it was poorly executed, and perhaps ahead of its time.
thank you, thank you, thank you! i agree completely, if the fiero were built today with some modern engineering i would get one in heartbeat. i would buy it and apply a lot of common sense to the purchase. drive it to work, get groceries and bop around. it's not something to load a bunch of stuff in with the wife and head across the country in. use it for what it's made for, that's the secret! if you are driving your insight cross loaded with the family,cut off a triple-bottom semi on the turnpike at 70mph just to make an exit and it results in a death to one of your family members.... IT'S NOT THE SEMI DRIVERS FAULT!!!!! i wish there was a way to isolate the common- sense gene in people
Is the saturn,my opinion is that G.M used the fiero to test its new concepts in design and production.As soon as they had the bugs worked out,in '88,they dropped it.
it was a shame too. because in 88 they used a redesigned suspension and they finally got it right. i guess the difference in handling is like night and day
Pro for plastic cars
We have a fiber glass car now, love it --- no rust! Plastic would be even better! Although, I would like to see what the safety tests show. And they should be smaller than what we drive now and much more fuel efficient, run on a battery and bio fuels to be the perfect car.
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you as well as others make the point of electric power for cars. now i want to ask all of you a question. would you pack up your family and move them right next to a nuclear power plant??? i don't mean 30 miles upwind either i mean right next door!!! because that electricity has to come from somewhere and unless it's nuclear, hydo or geothermal something is being burned to create that power.
Yes I have .year round warm water pumped into the sea a real treat,
on your side of the pond views of that sort of thing are very different than they are here in the USA. we have a very serious problem with the acronyn "NIMBY" for those of you that don't now what it means it's: Not In My Back-Yard. the tree huggers of America have a very loud voice and unfortunatly sometimes they are a very ill-informed group. we are constantly being bombarded with ststements about how great the world would be if everyone here drove electric cars. AS LONG AS THEIR HANDS STAY CLEAN WHEN THEY PLUG-IN THE CAR ALL IS WELL!!! but they would turn up their noses if you suggest them to live near a coal mine or directly upwind of a coal fired electric plant and GOD FORBID ever building another death trap nuclear powered plant.
I'm usually a green person. However, I hardly drive anywhere. I bet I use less gas than people who drive plastic cars. Gas usage isn't all about the car; it is about the driver. Who said that about the driver being the operating system? Right on! I love my gas guzzlin' volvo wagon. I plan to keep it until God decides it shall be no more.
What you see--isn't always what you think is going on....
So think about that when you see someone driving a heavy car. Maybe he or she is still green--just not in the most obvious of ways.
I own a plastic body car
This question to me is a no brainer. Plastic body cars are just as safe as metal cars. I have owned two Saturns and loved both. They both rated high on crash tests. Plus there are lots of other great things about them to. No dents!!! how great is that. My last metal body car was a Ford Probe and it had little dents where people opened their car doors and hit it, all over it. My two Saturns... not one dent. No rust either, plus plastic is lighter than steel. Lighter car = better gas mpg. They also are cheaper on insurance. Maybe because they don't dent? I love my 2005 Saturn Vue. The plastic panels are one of the main reasons i bought it. People need to open thier eyes and try new stuff.
very few of the outer panels of your Saturn are any lighter than the same panels if stamped out of steel plus the sub-structures need to be at least as heavy. i'm 100% positive that if you were to check the curb weight of every vehicle in that class you will find that they are all very close
This person knows, I'm tired of reading crap that polymer bodied cars are useless. Look at stats in Car magazines!! Why is it Saturn Aura is #1 in America???? And by the way, how long has GM been making the VET??? All for now, love my Saturn, no rust, 46 mpg. Rick.
Yes, I would and have in fact
bought one that was partially plastic. My concern- among those already voiced- is that the plastics will not be recyclable or degradable and will join the millions of tons that are buried or dropped in the sea annually as permanent toxic waste .
There are certainly some advantages, including a host of design options such as recurved shapes that cannot be made with metals. Their non-conducting properties allow embedding microchips and circuits anywhere, thus allowing a "computing" and network/environment aware car body with multiple sensors. Plastic bodies allow easier bonding of other materials such as solar collectors - in fact, allowing the entire car body to become a solar collector sandwich. Some plastics change shape with temperature, allowing for self-adjusting shading or aerodynamics. Like lens technology, plastics can be made adaptive - clear in low light conditions (problems for parking lot romance, however) and opaque in bright light. Already plastic parts are allowing body repairs to be done with thermal re-setting and other non-hammer/chisel techniques - and with color that goes completely through the part, scratches or wrinkles may no longer be an issue. The list could go on-and-on, but picture is clear(oh yeah, stealth technology and active skin camouflage..) - plastic will be the ultimate car (if we can just find some source of feedstock to make it, and fuel to run it - corn?).
what are the pros and cons of plastic cars
Won't go into the arguments but everyone probably knows
the 'Vette was only sheet metal one year so there's a good answer
for all although a car made from carbon fibre would be nice if
in the publics price range.
We are still talking massive carnage....
Lets put a steel bolt into a paper envelope, speed it up to 60mph. and stop abruptly. Do actually believe that the slug will remain in the envelope?
That is a metal ENGINE in a plastic car.
Better yet...put a plastic car into a Roller Derby and see if anyone would be willing to drive it.
PS. Plastic Trailer Trucks anyone.
Plastic trailer trucks??? Absolutely!!!!
Paultaut, You better do some reasearch. Kenworth and Peterbilt are currently building complete glued-together plastic truck bodies and having very good success with them. These are regular production trucks that are in normal service right now, not some futuristic experimental models. Yes, plastic is the future because it has many advantages over steel or aluminum. You might as well get used to it and start liking it.
who wouldn't want one?
i'd like malleable plastic! i could mould my hyundai into a bentley- what a hit that would be at the country club. i could shed my gardner's clothes and pose as a member...
I am a 62 year old male and I am still trying to find vehicles that offer some comfort, safety, and handling. These plastic "things" they call cars today are nothing more than cookie cutter types. When I learned to drive, you learned the rules of safety by knowing how to handle a vehicle with some weight to it. The shear weight of the vehicle being constructed of "real metal" gave the margin of safety we needed because we learned to drive...not aim our vehicles. Something that might have metal that might be thick enough to hold a can of peaches and then surrounded by plastic and inappropriatelly being referred to as a car is a joke. Heck even the plastics we had back in the day were heavier than they are today. I continue to drive the older vehicles and I will until I cannot drive any longer. Buy a plastic car? Why?
these cars are dangerous
these lighter cars are way more dangerous to the tune of 7000 more deaths per gallon of gas they supposedly conserve. and what are the statistics on the true cost compared to steel over all. and what is the long term of using plastics of these kinds---we are already polluting the planet almost beyond repair ---we need solid unbiased objective data and answers and fast --and where are the engines that can get 100 miles to the gallon -- why aren't we more concerned with better economy and 100% consumption than going to lighter poor utilitarian cars that are only "safe and green" on the surface and not in reality
Come on now lets get real. No one in any right frame of mind is saying that the car is plastic as in the total structure etc. The fact is metal or steel called the outer skin or what ever you want is not any stronger in protecting anyone than a plastic skin car with a solid well-engineered cage for the greenhouse. The so-called steel body panels are just plain soft tin material incapable of protection and if anything a point of lacerations. I will say this again, I can cause serious damage to car or truck of most any make or model with my bare hands, a knee or an elbow to todays tin like body panels. Do you really believe that those panels offer any protection in a minor or major accident? The only thing they provide is help with wind coefficients stats and weather protection. Sorry but the steel body panels on vehicles today is just trash and where stuck with it no mater how much you spend. Unless of course you can afford an H-1 hummer that is now discontinued to the public.
Do u read reviews on autos?? Think, before u talk. Saturn, voted America car of the year for 2007 models. That includes SAFETY! Thank u very much.
We might as well like plastic
Plastic has been in automobile bodies in front and rear ends and interiors and various other locations for years. Plastics (and other materials with characteristics similar to plastic) really have many advantages. Whether we embrace the movement or not, as present day motor fuel becomes more and more expensive, more and more plastics and similar materials will find their way into our automobiles. (it takes less fuel to get a lighter vehicle up to speed) We are just going to have to accept the fact. Besides, your steel body is in auto heaven while the plastic body has a few more years, and at a lower initial cost.
Is it lightning proof?
One of the safest places in an electrical storm is inside an automobile. What happens to that safety factor om a plastic car? Imagine getting hit by lightning at 60 mph with no protection.
some of the newer high mileage tires lack an important ingreediant needed for proper grounding. that is carbon black. if the tires don't ground electricity has a bad habit of searching for a ground.
What About Those Plastic Cars!
I too drove a 72 Dart. They look tough but not as tough as a 1949 model. However, the steel rusts and gets damaged. I drive a plastic car called a Corvette. They don,t use fiberglass any more. It is ding and dent resistent and can be touched up easily if need be. Here is the problem.....F = M A . The bigger a vehicle is and the faster it goes, the greater the force it creates. Inertia is another form of the problem. Once something goes, it doesn't want to stop. In the big old cars of the past, without seat belts and air bags, the passengers would bounce around in the vehicle like a ping pong ball upon a crash. The force created from the mass of the collision and the speed of the vehicles had to go some where. To lighten cars and get good gas mileage plastic is very important in a vehicle. But what about that force that happens almost instantly in a crash. It has to go somewhere and to prevent it from going through the passengers the auto engineers created the crumple car. Mercedes perfected this in the 1960's. The force is absorbed by the impact and the vehicle or parts of it (like the bumper) collapses. Thus making the passengers who are in a specialy designed cage in the vehicle, safe.
I have seen how in an instant, a sports car at high speeds hit a large SUV became a pile of rubble. The driver walked away. Yes the SUV had a lot less damage but you have to make compromises.
Plastic Parts on My Toyota
I drive a 2003 Toyota which has been dinged several times. The first time it was repaired by a tech using a 'magic color' technique and the second I dinged it myself which I plan to fix with underwater epoxy which sets up fast. As for the plastic parts the door panel plastic guards are useful in preventing dents except from the over prevalent SUV's. The plastic bumber covers are virtually useless since a hard whack will damage the shock absorbers which is an expensive deal
most cured epoxies sand like the floor so be careful when you use it! a bump of epoxy looks just as bad as a dent. even with a damaged bumper shock your toyota will survive to fight another day
todays cars are much safer
To me this is a silly topic as almost all of todays cars have metal subframes and bumpers. Todays fullsize cars are much safer than old cars.I have three cars, a 05 Chrysler 300, a 99 Mazda pickup , and a 1952 Chevy Styleline. I would much rather be in a wreck in either of my new cars than the 52. Yes the 52 is all steel and has big chrome bumpers but safety wise is a lot more dangerous. There is a misunderstanding that old cars are stronger but if you look at the weight of the vehicles ( where most damage and protection comes from) the 05 Chrysler weighs over 1000 pounds more than the 52, (4400 vs 3350). Small eco cars are the most dangerous and if you care about your family think before you buy. All the safety equipment makes these cars heavier. My 52 has no plastic except the knobs on dash and I would hate to hit the dash in an accident, but I do love the old look and feel of vintage vehicles.