The U.K. industry uses 89 million lb of plastics annually (54 lb/vehicle); nearly all the common plastics are employed. Half the total is polyurethane foam and soft PVC. Of the thermoplastics used polypropylene shows the greatest growth rate.
Principal areas of increase foreseen are extensions of existing applications, adoption for more arduous mechanical duties, and possible use as body structures. If these expectations are realized consumption by 1980 could reach 700 million lb/year (200 lb/vehicle).
Some groups on both sides of industry are conducting costly development studies, which are necessary in view of the present inadequate state of knowledge of the limitations and applicability of the synthetics to vehicle construction.
Historical cost trends, upward for steel and downward for plastics, will continue. By 1980 it is foreseen that cost parity between plastic and steel body parts could be reached. The prospect will continue to stimulate technical innovation leading to more massive adoption of plastics in automobiles.