Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s new RVR compact crossover (earlier post) uses front fenders made from SABIC Innovative Plastics’ Noryl GTX resin. The RVR is the second fender from the Mitsubishi/SABIC Innovative Plastics relationship, which first gave consumers the Delica D:5 minivan in 2007, also sporting front fenders molded from Noryl GTX resin.
By replacing steel with this high-performance resin, Mitsubishi slashed the weight of the part by almost 50% and achieved a unique and highly complex geometry to differentiate the new vehicle’s styling and improve pedestrian safety compliance.
In developing the RVR as the company’s newest compact crossover, Mitsubishi engineers made every effort to reduce part weight in order to achieve best-in-class fuel efficiency. Noryl GTX resin contributed by reducing vehicle body weight by 3 kg (6.6lbs). Mitsubishi has already announced that it will introduce the vehicle, branded as the Mitsubishi ASX, into the European market later this year, and will follow with expansion into other regions of the world.
Noryl GTX resin reduces part weight to help cut fuel consumption and emissions, and has been audited by GreenOrder, an environmental strategy firm. According to GreenOrder, because the resin is 50% lighter than steel, equipping all cars on the road today in Europe with fenders made from Noryl GTX resin would save 530 million liters (140 million gallons) of fuel and avoid 1.3 million metric tons (1.43 million tons US) of carbon dioxide emissions.
The material also provides greater design freedom than metal. By injection molding Noryl GTX resin, Mitsubishi designers were able to create a complex fender geometry featuring a sharp front edge and a side slot for an indicator lamp. Such a design would have been difficult to fabricate in steel as it would require multiple steps, tools and operations.
The SABIC Innovative Plastics’ resin also enabled Mitsubishi designers and engineers to significantly increase the fender’s flexibility vs. that of steel. This enhanced flexibility is expected to provide excellent head impact absorption in pedestrian incidents, as well as recovery of the fender from minor collisions.
During vehicle production, Noryl GTX resin helps reduce complexity and shorten cycle times. Its high-temperature resistance and intrinsic conductivity allow the fenders to be on-line painted without the need for a conductive primer, and deliver painted aesthetics equivalent to steel. To optimize on-line painting of the plastic fenders along with the steel body, careful part design and processing were essential. SABIC Innovative Plastics assisted Mitsubishi by sharing its expertise in CAE-based parts performance prediction and molding support, as well as supplying the high-performance Noryl GTX resin.
Noryl GTX resin has been used in auto fenders for more than 20 years. Since 1988, more than 20 million vehicles have been manufactured with fenders made from Noryl GTX resin in Europe, the United States, Japan, South America and China. Automakers that have chosen these fenders over the years include GM, Ford, Volkswagen, Renault, PSA Peugeot Citroen, BMW, Audi, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, and Nissan.
SABIC Innovative Plastics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), one of the world’s top six petrochemicals manufacturers.