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Indian auto majors eyeing engineering plastic to reduce dependence on metals
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Written by Viswanath   
Thursday, 22 May 2008

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Mumbai: Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Bajaj Auto, Hero Honda, TVS Motors and Maruti Suzuki have begun to shift focus to using engineering plastic instead of metals in vehicles.

Indian auto majors have now begun to understand the cost advantage of using engineering plastic in their vehicles.

Not only can tooling costs be halved but the use of plastic can reduce the total weight of the vehicle by 40% thus increasing its fuel efficiency. Engineering plastic is also sturdy, flexible and durable.

The year 2008 has witnessed a stupendous 35 to 50 % increase in the prices of aluminum and steel, key metals used in the manufacture of automotive vehicles.

BASF, the world’s leading chemical company, supplies plastic components to companies like General Motors, Ford and Volkswagen. Almost 13 percent of the company’s 58 billion revenue is generated from automotive engineering plastics. GM, Ford and Volkswagen have already begun to source plastic components for its India cars from BASF. 

According to Wolfgang Hapke, president of BASF, the scope of development in the use of plastics in automobiles in India is large. Currently, India lags behind other countries in the use of plastics in automobiles despite being one of the fastest growing automotive markets in the world. With leading Indian auto players concentrating on producing ultra low-cost vehicles, Hapke expects supplies to double in the next few years. The company will supply components for the Nano, Tata Motors most ambitious low-cost project. BASF will also hold talks with Bajaj Auto and Renault. Indian original equipment manufacturers have also begun to show interest in plastic auto components.

BASF has anounced a new engineering plastics compounding plant and computer aided engineering lab in Thane. The expansion of coatings facilities in Mangalore and catalyst plant in Chennai is also underway.

 
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