AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Plastic Windows Look Promising

March 24th, 2008 at 2:00pm

As heard on
WWJ Newsradio 950

Listen to this story:

Windows made out of glass have been in cars for nearly a century. But as automakers look for ways to cut the weight of their cars, they’re taking note that glass is heavy.

Ten years ago some suppliers began touting the advantages of making windows in cars out of plastic, out of polycarbonate to be precise. Here we are a decade later and there are a few examples of plastic windows, but that could change quickly thanks to the upcoming fuel economy regulations.

Automakers know one of the fastest ways to boost fuel economy is to cut weight. And plastic windows are half the weight of glass ones. But plastic windows also let more noise pass through them and they’re more expensive than glass ones.

But it’s going to be tough to meet those new fuel economy standards and automakers will be mighty tempted to use plastic windows, in spite of the drawbacks.


2 Comments to “AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Plastic Windows Look Promising”

  1. Matt Says:

    I think the polycarbonate windows would have benefits well beyond weight savings. I worked with polycarbonate panes a few years ago, and I think if automotive windows are made from it, the designers will be able to be much more creative with windows.

    Polycarbonate can be machined to almost any sphape, and it is not prone to cracking at concave corners like glass is. Front windshields (or any windows) could be designed to non-standard shapes with out the usual fears associated with the brittle nature of glass.

  2. Tom Martin Says:

    Sure hope the plastic windows don’t cloud up, like so many plastic headlights are now doing.