Recent automotive styling trends have led to increased temperatures in the vehicle interior and underhood compartment. Specifically, solar heating through the larger glass areas has helped raise the interior soak temperature, which has increased the demand for air conditioning and accessory loading in order to maintain passenger comfort.
In addition, various electronic components and a constrained air flow caused by front-end styling have all contributed to significant increases in underhood temperatures.
The impact of the passenger compartment temperature increases is seen in increased interior component warpage, cracks, discoloration and reduced life of interior plastics and fabrics. Similarly, underhood plastics will experience more severe temperature environments.
In this paper, the effects of high temperatures on plastics performance and key material characteristics (KMC) will be reviewed, and a strategy of materials selection to meet end-user requirements will be discussed.