Whether you approve of plastic parts or not the fuel-saving lightweight parts are here to stay. Let’s take a quick look how we got to where we are today.
The first cars were nothing more than a buggy with an engine. In 1908 the first mass produced Model T was produced on an assembly line by Henry Ford. Color matching was probably easy then, as all the cars were black. This was to keep the cost down. It was Henry Ford’s vision to make an affordable vehicle.
There were no major changes from the Model Ts to cars made in the 1950s. Cars were body-over-frame and rear wheel drive. However in the 1960s people started wanting more speed. This was accomplished with big block motors, which produced additional horsepower. The 60’s was the start of the hotrods and custom paint jobs.
The 1970s brought many more changes to vehicles. The government stepped in and started pushing strict fuel economy and emission control laws. Customers also started demanding better fuel mileage. With the governments new laws and the demands of the customers started the explosion of automotive engineering ideas and changes in the automotive industry.
To comply with the laws and the demands of the customers, cars became smaller and more aerodynamic. They started using different designs and materials to decrease the weight of the vehicles. They learn how to strengthen the metal by work hardening, which allowed them to use thinner metal.
During this time many vehicles were being manufactured. Interstates were being built to allow people to travel much faster. However, more cars on the road at higher rates of speed resulted in a high number of accidents and deaths. Therefore, there were federal laws passed to regulate safety. This included seat belts, safety glass and head restraints. In 1979 the first driver side airbag was introduced. It become mandatory for all vehicles to have airbags in 1990.
Today vehicles continue to focus on safety and weight reduction. To decrease weight manufactures are using carbon fiber, aluminum, high strength steel, ultra high strength steel, boron, and a lot more of plastics. Another benefit of plastic is that it is corrosion resistance.
So lets face it, the fuel-saving lightweight parts are here to stay. It’s been 100 years since the Model T was first pushed out of the assembly line. With the significant amount of changes in the past 100 years; what changes does the next 100, 50, or even 20 bring? We may see new products surface and used to build cars, but I bet plastics will still be used.
Here is a link about future cars and the use of plastic.
What is your opinion and/or forecast of future cars? Leave us a comment.