xxxThe American Chemistry Council (ACC, Washington, D.C.) is touting a new report from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. (NHTSA) that evaluates and promotes the benefits of plastics- and composites-intensive vehicles (PCIVs) to enhance motor-vehicle safety. According to the ACC, the NHTSA study is especially timely in view of national priorities for increasing CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards to help achieve energy independence and environmental sustainability goals.
“With increasing public demand for higher fuel economy, NHTSA could not have undertaken, at a more opportune time, its roadmapping activity on the use of plastics for enhancing motor-vehicle safety,” says Dr. Tom Hollowell, retired director of the Office of Applied Vehicle Safety Research at NHTSA.
“The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will prompt the most significant changes in vehicle design in the last 30 years,” notes James Kolb, senior director – Automotive for the ACC. “Fortunately, the increased use of plastic and composite materials will enable automakers to design new global vehicle architectures that address safety, fuel efficiency, emissions and performance issues while also offering consumers choice and value.”
In fiscal year (FY) 2006, the U.S. Congress directed NHTSA to “begin development of a program to examine the possible safety benefits of lightweight PCIVs” to develop a foundation for cooperation with the Department of Energy (DoE), industry and other automotive-safety stakeholders. NHTSA, in turn, tasked the Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to conduct a research study in cooperation with industry partner the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Div. This study identified promising, high-leverage research partnerships and composite materials standards-development efforts relevant to PCIV safety, as well as information to be developed and barriers to PCIV deployment. The study also identified R&D priorities for the development and deployment of lightweight PCIVs, which would meet NHTSA requirements by 2020.
The complete NHTSA report is available at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/DOT/NHTSA/NRD/Multimedia/Crashworthiness/4680PCIV_SafetyRoadmap-Nov2007.pdf.