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Environmentally Friendly Concept Car from Rinspeed and Bayer MaterialScience Illustrates Innovative Ideas for Plastics in the Car of the Future

Submitted by: Bayer

Categories: Environment, Renewable & Alternative Energy

Posted: Mar 09, 2007 – 06:19 AM EST

 

Geneva Motor Show Marks World Premiere of Transparent Concept Car, the "eXasis"

PITTSBURGH, March 8, 2007 - The body and floor of the new Rinspeed "eXasis" concept car, made from the transparent Bayer MaterialScience plastic Makrolon® polycarbonate (PC), offers a revealing look into the car of the future. The cigar-shaped two-seater was developed by Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht and the automotive experts at Bayer MaterialScience.

"Everyone who sees the eXasis for the first time raves about the glass car, but they actually mean our transparent high-tech plastic," says Ian Paterson, the member of the Bayer MaterialScience Board of Management responsible for Marketing and Innovation, describing the typical reaction to the prototype. "Many people only talk about innovation. We do it, in conjunction with our partners."

"In fact, the transparency of the eXasis represents our openness and our desire to collaborate with processors, systems suppliers and car manufacturers to turn new ideas and engineering solutions into the car of tomorrow," agrees Hans-Peter Neuwald, spokesman for the AutoCreativeTM team, which coordinates the global automotive industry activities of Bayer MaterialScience.

The eXasis will make its debut to the general public at the Geneva Motor Show, scheduled for March 8 - 18, 2007, 40 years after Bayer presented the first "all-plastic car" at the K67 Plastics Fair in Germany in 1967. But even before its debut, the concept car has been attracting plenty of attention.

Eco-roadster: Attractive, Fast, Powerful ... and Virtually CO2-free
The Swiss Federal Office for Energy has selected the concept car as the subject for a study on the topic of "lightweight construction and ecology." You might say the reasons for this are "clear."

Thanks to its transparent lightweight plastic construction in Makrolon PC, it weighs only 750 kg. The car is propelled by a 750 ccm Weber engine with only two cylinders. Its average consumption is 6.3 liters of bioethanol E85 (= 4.5 liters of gasoline) per 100 km, and because ethanol is virtually CO2-neutral in the ecological balance, its CO2 emissions amount to a mere 20 g per kilometer. E85 is a renewable biofuel from pure biomass that had previously stored the CO2 that is released during combustion in the engine. For comparison, a typical mid-class car emits around 200 g CO2 per km.

"Cars must become even lighter to save CO2, and you can't achieve this without modern plastics. Just as important, environmentally compatible cars must be seen as fun, otherwise no one would buy them," notes Paterson.

Nothing to Hide
The outer Makrolon PC shell, molded by the Swiss firm Mecaplex and coated with a tinge of yellow by the German hard coatings specialist, KRD, reveals the vehicle's load-bearing aluminum chassis. The chassis looks as if it has been cut from a solid piece of material, and in fact the bulkheads are. Despite this, the entire construction exudes a sense of lightness like bamboo, underlined by a Lesonal chrome effect finish based on Bayer MaterialScience's Desmodur® and Desmophen® polyurethane raw materials.

To finish the surfaces of the knobs and levers so they are pleasing both visually and to the touch, the Bayer experts utilized a special soft-touch polyurethane coating formulated from the high-grade, waterborne coating raw materials Bayhydrol® (polyurethane dispersions) and Bayhydur® (hydrophilic polyisocyanates).

The two occupants sit in special seats designed in cooperation with Recaro. Each seat consists of 12 transparent Makrolon PC ribs - the same number as a human being. The head restraint and armrests are made of transparent Technogel®, a lightfast, elastic and plasticizer-free polyurethane gel, which feels soft and warm and makes the seats particularly comfortable. The Hightex/Sellner Group, which specializes in interior design, was responsible not only for the futuristic seat coverings and the design of the fabric-covered steering wheel, but also added a number of other stylish highlights. One example is the innovative application of aluminized glass fiber material with a diamond-shape design on the wheel rims, trim, wishbones, fuel tank and headlamps.

The two transparent indicator and function displays seem to hover on both sides in the driver's field of vision. By touching them, various functions can be displayed and controlled. Each of the touch-panels is made of a transparent CD/DVD Makrolon PC blank that has been coated with electrically conductive Baytron® P polymer to trigger the switch functions. The displays were developed by the Swiss safety and closure system specialists Kaba. The personalized access system to the car is also integrated into the touch panels.

Under the hood of this futuristic car, cables are sheathed with flexible, abrasion- and media-resistant Desmopan® thermoplastic polyurethane.

Simply put, the eXasis concept car brings together Bayer MaterialScience's extensive product portfolio, comprehensive know-how in processes and technologies and many years of experience in the automotive industry. "With the new concept car, we wanted to demonstrate that our plastics are tailor-made materials that are suitable for both current trends in automotive design and assembly line production," says Neuwald.

This is very much the case with Makrolon PC, which is becoming established as a new material for automotive glazing and transparent roof modules. Two other examples are the reinforced Bayflex® 180/190 polyurethane as a lightweight engineering material for body parts such as fenders and door sill covers, and special grades of Makrofol® PC film and Bayblend® PC/ABS blends, which can be used to create innovative instrument displays.

For more information on Bayer MaterialScience's engineering polymers and technologies for the automotive industry, call 1-800-662-2927 or visit www.bayermaterialscienceNAFTA.com.

For more information about the Rinspeed "eXasis," visit www.rinspeed.com, or contact Frank M. Rinderknecht +41 44 918-2323 or fmr@rinspeed.com.

Bayer MaterialScience LLC is one of the leading producers of polymers and high-performance plastics in North America and is part of the global Bayer MaterialScience business with nearly 19,000 employees at 40 sites around the world and 2005 sales of 10.7 billion euros. Our innovative developments in coating, adhesive and sealant raw materials, polycarbonates, polyurethanes and thermoplastic urethane elastomers enhance the design and functionality of products in a wide variety of markets, including the automotive, construction, electrical and electronics, household and medical industries, and the sports and leisure fields. Our inorganic basic chemicals unit produces chlorine and related essential products for the chemicals industry. Let us give life to your vision. Bayer MaterialScience - Where VisionWorks.

Bayer Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is a subsidiary of Bayer AG, an international health care, nutrition and innovative materials group based in Leverkusen, Germany. In North America, Bayer had 2005 net sales of 7.3 billion euros and employed 16,200 at year end. Bayer's three operating companies - Bayer HealthCare LLC, Bayer CropScience LP and Bayer MaterialScience LLC - improve people's lives through a broad range of essential products that help diagnose, prevent and treat diseases, protect crops and advance automobile safety and durability.

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This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in our public reports filed with the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (including our Form 20-F). The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments

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As was the case with its two concept predecessors, the "zaZen" and the "Senso," nearly all the Bayer MaterialScience business units were involved in the development of the Rinspeed eXasis concept car. But it was the plastics experts from BMS with their Makrolon® polycarbonate who were responsible for the transparency of the eXasis

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