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GM Announces Use of New Plastic

August 28, 2001

WARREN, Mich. (AP) _ General Motors Corp. on Tuesday announced that it has developed the first automotive exterior use for a new lightweight high performance plastic material.

The first application of the material will be on step-assists on 2002 model year GMC Safari and Chevrolet Astro minivans.

The material, developed by GM, Basell Polyolefins and Blackhawk Automotive Plastics Inc., is up to 20 percent lighter, more durable and more recyclable than current plastic materials used, said Alan Taub, executive director of science for GM research and development.

``We’re saving weight with no cost penalty, which enables us to use the material for a wider range of applications,″ Taub said.

GM expects to equip about 8,000 Safari and Astro minivans with the step-assists made of the new material, which is called thermoplastic olefin nanocomposite, or TPO nanocomposite.

Taub said the automaker wanted to begin using it on a lower volume vehicle at first to gauge its performance.

GM is exploring other uses of the material including vehicle interiors, Taub said.

At this point though, the plastic is not suitable for use on body panels. Such use would require additional research, Taub said.

In midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, GM shares were down 36 cents at $56.33.

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On the Net:

General Motors Corp., http://www.gm.com/

Basell Polyolefins, http://www.basell.com/

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