Shown above is the Outlander of Mitsubishi Motors, which is equipped with a front fender made of LG Chem’s engineering plastic. Photo courtesy of LG Chem

Vehicle exteriors are also made of plastics

South Korea’s LG Chem said on Jan. 10 that it had started supplying engineering plastics to Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors for the powder coating parts of the latter’s vehicles.

LG Chem said that the coating parts would be used for the front fender, which protects wheels from road debris, of such Mitsubishi models as RVR, Delica D:5, and Outlander.

LG Chem expected that a plastic fender would reduce the weight of a vehicle by about 4 kilograms compared to conventional products based on steel or aluminum.

The Seoul-headquartered chemical company noted that its plastic, dubbed LUCON TX5007, had outstanding electrical conductivity and heat resistance.

Such properties are necessary for the automotive on-the-line process, which is conducted at a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius or higher, according to LG Chem.

“In addition to LUCON TX5007, LG Chem has a broad portfolio of products that can be used for large-scale automotive exterior parts that need to utilize powder coating process,” an LG Chem official said.

“These products can be customized to meet automotive suppliers’ diverse parts requirements for fenders, bumper panels, hoods, tailgates, fuel doors, and side mirrors.”

Observers point out that global automakers take advantage of new materials to make their vehicles more lightweight.

“As long as the safety is not sacrificed, lighter vehicles are good for motorists because they are more fuel efficient,” Prof. Kim Pil-soo at Daelim University said.

“Light cars are also good for society because they are environmentally friendly. They emit less greenhouse gas to reduce carbon footprints.”

In particular, the professor said that electric vehicle makers had tried very hard to cut down vehicle weights to improve the driving range of their cars.

The share price of LG Chem rose 0.8 percent on the South Korean stock exchange on Jan. 10.