The Role of Plastic Contract Manufacturers in the Canadian Electric Vehicle Industry
As automakers transition to producing more electric vehicles, the role of plastic contract manufacturers in the Canadian electric vehicle industry is growing. Much of this growth in demand is a natural extension of the close relationship automakers and plastics manufacturers already enjoy.
Automakers and plastics manufacturers have a long history of partnership. As demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles grew, automakers began replacing heavy metal components with more lightweight plastic parts – and plastic contract manufacturers stepped in to meet the demand. The transition to electric vehicles calls for more of the same innovation and expertise.
As automakers race to meet demands for electric vehicles, they are faced with the challenge of how to keep total vehicle weight down given the weight of EV batteries, which weigh between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds, on average, though some larger vehicles have even heavier batteries. Compensating for battery weight isn’t the only reason why plastics are being used more extensively in EV vehicles. Lighter weight vehicles require less energy to move, which increases the battery’s range.
In order to offset the weight of the battery and maintain the desired battery range, automakers are working with plastic contract manufacturers to incorporate lighter weight plastic parts and components elsewhere in the vehicle. This is called vehicle “lightweighting” and it is the primary focus of automakers and their plastics manufacturing partners right now.
Where Plastics Are Reducing Vehicle Weight
Plastics are being used everywhere in modern vehicles whether they are gas-powered, hybrid, or electric. Some of the most common areas where lightweighting occurs are listed below.
- Structural components. Believe it or not, many of the core structural components of new vehicles are reinforced with plastic polymers like glass-fiber or carbon-fiber composites. Structural components include the inside of doors, fenders, lift gates, floors, and roof rails.
- In addition to roof rails, roofs themselves are being made with plastic polymers. In particular, panoramic sunroofs are increasingly made of polycarbonate instead glass to reduce weight and any chance of injury due to shattering glass.
- Truck beds. Some automakers are using plastic polymers in their truck beds, which eliminates a lot of weight.
- Battery Enclosures. EV batteries must be contained in a flame-retardant enclosure, which are frequently made from engineered thermoplastics. This helps limit weight and provides heat-resistant protection.
- Those same types of engineered thermoplastics are making their way under the hood of vehicles too. Characteristics like heat resistance and superb strength have earned thermoplastics a job in structural applications and even pump housings and thermostats.
- Safety Features. In addition to lightweight benefits, certain plastics have high impact resistance and are used to improve vehicle safety. You will find plastics in doors, fenders, seat belts safety seats, airbags, and even in safety glass. They are all designed to keep drivers and passengers safer on the road.
The Role of Plastic Contract Manufacturers in the Canadian Electric Vehicle Industry Is Growing
The advances in thermoplastics and polymers and the increased need for vehicle lightweighting, have cemented the role of plastic contract manufacturers in the Canadian electric vehicle industry. Plastics manufacturers with automotive experience, like Baytech Plastics, will continue to partner with and innovate solutions for the EV industry as consumer demand and government sustainability regulations grow.