ACCE 2009: Composites mix in traditional, new vehicles

Despite sluggishness in the auto industry, this year's SPE Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition in Troy, Mich., attracted traditional and non-traditional automakers.

The U.S. auto industry might be awash with change and uncertainty, but that didn't stop an eager group of automotive engineers and designers from flocking to the Society of Plastics Engineers' (SPE) Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) Sept. 15-16 in the Detroit suburb of Troy, Mich. The more than 350 attendees were treated to a range of presentations and keynotes, covering everything from the latest on development of an all-composite underbody to the newest alternative-fuel vehicles.

Attracting much attention was Myers Motors (Tallmadge, Ohio, USA), which brought to the conference its three-wheeled, all-electric, composite-body, highway-safe, one-person car, dubbed NmG (No more Gas). Priced at less than $30,000 with a range of 40-60 miles on a charge, the NmG is targeting one-passenger city comuters, of whom Myers believes there are about 70 million in the U.S. alone.

Dana Myers, president, was on hand at the ACCE to answer questions and, perhaps more importantly, learn a little more about how his company can better use composites on the vehicle. Myers noted that all body panels on the NmG are fiberglass (with some balsa core) and hand laid over a metallic skeleton. Myers says he'd like to find a material and process combination that can help the company speed vehicle manufacture while reducing costs and weight. The current version, says Myers, weighs less than 1,400 lb/635 kg. "We're looking for innovation and people willing to invest time and effort to move quickly," said Myers. 

The one-seater recharges on a standard American oulet and costs about $.02/mile to operate. It recharges at a rate of 3.5-4.0 miles per hour plugged in. On Sept. 23 the company is introducing a new two-seater design of its car; Myers said he wants this new car to weigh less than 1,400 lb/635 kg as well and hope very much to use newer composites technology on the body of this vehicle. He wants to start production of the two-seater by third quarter 2010 and ramp up to 50,000 units per year within four to five years. Myers encourages composites innovators interested in helping his company to e-mail him at info@myersmotors.com.

Look for more on the ACCE in next week's CompositesWorld Weekly.