Thermoplastic doors aren't sexy, but here's why they matter.
Magna recently introduced a world-first innovation in the shape of rear thermoplastic swing doors. These doors will debut on the all-electric Volkswagen ID. Buzz, which is just one of many confirmations that VW's electric family bus will be adapted for the commercial market.
Rear swing doors aren't all that exciting, but there's good reason to be excited. These doors showcase what Magna can do with its thermoplastic, which contains recycled materials and is between 20% to 30% lighter than traditional steel.
In an EV like the ID. Buzz that means less weight, resulting in increased range. Because the material is lighter, it requires less effort to open the rear doors.
We can also look beyond just the basics. Magna says its thermoplastic resin material allows for more styling freedom, sharper detailing, undercut surfaces, and tighter radii. As you can see on these split doors, the spoiler is integrated into the doors, which reduces the cost.
Magna is the most significant parts supplier in the USA, and its customers include GM, Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Tesla. We know that the EV skateboard design will allow designers more creative freedom, and Magna's thermoplastic resin now potentially provides an affordable way to bring those designs to life.
When all cars go from 0-60 mph in three seconds, what do you use to differentiate them? Design is one obvious area.
"Lightweight components are increasingly important with the shift to electrification, and we see an ever-growing demand for new access solutions," said Grahame Burrow, President of Magna Exteriors. "Magna has been on the forefront of next-generation thermoplastic liftgate, and now we are taking that expertise to develop numerous integration possibilities for our customers."
For now, Magna's focus will be on the split doors. Magna will offer the split option alongside the existing liftgate, allowing customers to choose what solution works best for them. Both thermoplastic solutions are supplied as ready-to-install modules. This helps to reduce production time and improve line efficiency while saving on cost.
To us, the potential for the material stretches far beyond split doors, depending on how strong it is. Magna did not reveal the structural rigidity compared to steel, but we already know a few things thanks to the ID. Buzz's underpinnings.
It rides on the MEB platform, which sits underneath various current and upcoming cars. MEB is essentially an electric skateboard, which allows for a lot of freedom. We also know VW is interested in building either a standalone EV pickup or a pickup based on the Buzz. Or both.
Magna's new thermoplastic resin might play a significant role in Scout's return, keeping development and building costs low, hopefully translating to a more affordable product for the end user.