Plastic Industry Awards

23 November 2000

Ford Motor Company received the Society of Plastics Engineers' award at the 30th Annual Automotive Division Innovation Awards, for the most innovative use of plastics body exterior for introducing the industry's first structural cargo box using composite materials. The composite pickup box on the Ford 2001 Explorer SportTrac was developed in partnership with The Budd Company's Plastics Division. Using a composite instead of steel yields an over all reduction in vehicle weight, resulting in an increase in fuel economy. A structural Sheet Molding Composite (SMC) box inner does not trap water under a liner, eliminating the risk of rust damage to the pickup bed. The SMC box is close to 20 percent lighter than a typical steel box. The old process requires 45 pieces of sheet metal to be assembled. With the new composite one-piece box, there are fewer pieces, fewer tools and assembly fixtures and it takes up less floor space in the assembly plant, which results in cost savings. The composite box exceeds the 150,000-mile durability requirements specified by Ford Truck for all pickup boxes. It is built "Ford Tough" and is far superior to steel for corrosion and dent resistance. Not only does the composite box reduce weight, improve fuel economy, increase durability, cut down production time and cost it is also recyclable.

Share this story