As I see it, applications for plastics in automobiles can be broken into three categories: the easy ones, which generally means that a non-plastic alternative is difficult to find. These include dashboards, seats, carpeting. The moderately challengin ones, where the demands are higher but not outrageous. These include plastic side panels, windows and HDPE gas tanks. And then there are the "you-must-be-crazy" applications, mostly under the hood (i.e., bonnet for the readers in the U.K.) where you have the engine throwing out a lot of heat via conduction, convection and radiation. Plastic air intake manifolds have been around for a while, but now DuPont has a some new nylons that it is targeting for oil pans and mufflers
Think about having to develop a platic for that - hot oil in constant contact with your candidates, all day long. Hot exhause gases constantly blowing over your plastic. And since these are both along the bottom of the car, there is a large temperature differential (especially in Northern winters) that is trying to warp the parts more than dilithium crystals twisted space for the USS Enterprise.
As I've mentioned before, plastics are going to continue to be needed in automobiles in order to increase mileage. I'm just glad someone else is working on these developments.
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