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LANXESS showcases high-tech solutions at first “Mobility Day North America”

  • Guest speaker: automotive legend Bob Lutz
  • Premiere of AA concept tire
  • “Green Mobility” sales up 20 percent in H1 2012
  • Further events to take place in Brazil, Europe and South Africa 2012

LANXESS is continuing its successful series of global events dedicated to the topic of “Green Mobility” by staging its inaugural “Mobility Day North America”. The one-day conference is being held in Charlotte, North Carolina, and addresses the theme “Advanced Technologies for Sustainable Mobility”.

At the conference, the German specialty chemicals company is showcasing, among other materials, its high-performance grades of synthetic rubber for “Green Tires” and lightweight plastics for automobiles. The audience of more than 200 people includes customers, media representatives and government officials.

“We are hosting Mobility Day here because the United States is the heart and soul of the automotive world,” said LANXESS CEO Axel C. Heitmann at the opening of the event.

America leads the world in number of registered passenger cars. Moreover, Americans not only own more cars, but they drive more miles than their counterparts in any other nation.

The keynote guest speaker is former General Motors Vice Chairman Robert (Bob) A. Lutz and the author of the book “Car Guys vs. Bean Counters”. He will share his experiences and visions for the future with the audience.

“Green Mobility”

Due to rapid growth in demand for sustainable solutions in the mobility sector, LANXESS has dedicated the year 2012 to “Green Mobility”.

The United States currently achieves the lowest level of fuel economy among developed countries, with passenger cars averaging 25 miles per gallon. In the European Union, the comparable figure is 45 miles per gallon. (1 US gallon = 3.79 liters)

Stricter regulations, such as the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules now being implemented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and high gasoline prices have been accelerating the effort to produce cars and trucks that consume less fuel. This presents an opportunity for LANXESS and its solutions.

A vital array of products for “Green Mobility” – such as high-performance rubber and high-tech plastics – are manufactured at 25 of LANXESS’ 49 production sites. These products accounted for some 17 percent of total LANXESS sales, or approximately EUR 1.5 billion (USD 2.0 billion). The specialty chemicals company aims to increase this number to EUR 2.7 billion (USD 3.5 billion) by 2015.

In the first half of 2012, sales of “Green Mobility” products increased by roughly 20 percent year-on-year, to EUR 878 million (USD 1,147 million).

AA-rated concept tire

At today’s event, LANXESS is showcasing an “AA-rated” concept tire that was developed by the company in Germany and tested by TÜV SÜD, one of the world's leading independent technical service organizations. The concept tire uses the latest generation of neodymium-based performance rubber (Nd-PBR) technology, as well as solution styrene butadiene rubber (SSBR) and rubber additives to achieve a grade of “A” for both rolling resistance and wet grip under the new EU tire-labeling rules. It is one of the first tires in the world to achieve an AA-rating.

Nd-PBR is used in the treads and sidewalls of tires to help reduce rolling resistance and increase fuel efficiency. Nd-PBR is highly resistant to abrasion and plays a significant role in making tires safer and more durable. SSBR is principally used in the tread compounds of tires, where it helps reduce rolling resistance and improve wet grip.

Studies show that 20 to 30 percent of an automobile’s fuel consumption and 24 percent of its CO2 emissions are related to tires.

“This is one of the newest technological developments from LANXESS. We are now moving from the age of tire design to the age of tire materials, which will make new gains in performance,” said Heitmann. “And here LANXESS is playing a leading role in developing the tires of tomorrow for our customers.”

The concept tire will be further developed to ensure that LANXESS’ customers in the tire industry receive the best materials – as quickly as possible – in order to gain a competitive advantage, above all in terms of durability.

Tire labeling in the United States

Industry groups and regulators in the US continue to work towards the implementation of tire labeling regulations, which are not anticipated to become effective before 2014.

Meanwhile, in the European Union, mandatory tire labeling will be launched in November 2012. Tires will be graded from A to G according to their fuel efficiency and wet grip, while external rolling noise will be indicated in decibels. Thus, the new regulations provide more transparency for consumers by highlighting the added value of “Green Tires”.

Comparable regulations will also be implemented this December in South Korea. In Japan, tires have been labeled since 2010 – albeit on a voluntary basis.

Motorists who make the jump to “Green Tires” gain clear advantages. By replacing the tires on their car with “Green Tires” – at an added cost of USD 20 to USD 30 per tire – car owners achieve considerable fuel cost savings. Under ideal circumstances, their gasoline consumption will decline by 5 to 7 percent. Studies also demonstrate that “Green Tires” shorten the braking distance on wet or icy surfaces by up to 15 percent and considerably improve general handling in the winter.

Lightweight plastics

In addition to tires, LANXESS is focused on lightweight plastics, which are replacing traditional materials such as steel and aluminum in automotive production. High-tech plastic parts now make up 20 percent of today’s car components, and that percentage will keep growing.

Polyamides and polyesters, such as our Durethan and Pocan brands, have a wide variety of automotive applications, including body parts, oil pans, coolant pipes, battery housings, steering rods, pedals and pedal brackets.

These highly innovative materials help make possible much lighter plastic parts that can replace metal parts in motor vehicles, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Furthermore, the materials enable automobile manufacturers and suppliers to achieve simpler assembly processes and considerable savings.

Yesterday in Gastonia, North Carolina, LANXESS opened its first lightweight plastics compounding facility in the United States, to serve the growing local market.

History of event series

When LANXESS first launched its Rubber Day conference in 2009, it created a high-level forum that has risen to a place of prominence in the tire industry’s annual calendar of events. Rubber Day and the additional events LANXESS has since developed – Automotive Day and Mobility Day – now serve as vital gatherings at which leading experts from the rubber, tire and automotive industries join with policymakers and top academics to discuss the latest developments and exchange views.

This year’s series began at the beginning of September in Shanghai with “Mobility Day China”. In Rio de Janeiro, LANXESS will host “Rubber Day Brazil” on October 18, followed in Prague by “Mobility Day CEE” on November 22 and 23. The events will conclude on November 27 and 28, with “Mobility Day South Africa” in Port Elizabeth.

LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.8 billion in 2011 and currently around 16,900 employees in 31 countries. The company is currently represented at 49 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainable indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World and FTSE4Good.

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