Is the green movement a fad?
If one wants to use natural fiber in its natural state, it would be a fad. However, there are current projects that focus on reducing the moisture absorption of natural fiber to make low-cost green composites. From that point of view, it fosters more research on eliminating those kinds of issues, and if that is done, it will have a lasting impact.
Why are composites largely relegated to niche models?
Very often, because the industry cannot guarantee quality and performance of composites from the get-go, the OEMs end up using steel as the mainstream design and composites as an option. However, then the design becomes based on steel and a design that is good for steel application often causes failure in composites because of the way the components interface with each other.
How can the composites industry ensure performance and quality?
In order for the industry to be competitive, it has to work with the OEMs at the time of the design of the vehicle so that the design is for composites, not for sheet metal, and then deliver what they promised through the life of the vehicle.
What other issues must the composites industry confront?
One of the issues is cost. Subject to variations of oil prices, long-term commitment to pricing has become an issue for suppliers. They need to come up with strategies to make a commitment to the cost of a component and the consistency of its quality. The OEMs can only allocate a certain amount of money, and that doesn’t necessarily go up every year.