DETROIT - Chrysler is delving deeper into the use of plastic car bodies.
While the Plymouth Pronto Spyder is a concept for a two-seat roadster, it uses Chrysler's ideas for designing a cheap car for emerging markets.
The Pronto Spyder picks up where Chrysler left off with Composite Concept Vehicle, or CCV, shown in September 1997 at the Frankfurt auto show. That car used an easily assembled body made of a few injection-molded parts.
Chrysler calls the Spyder an exotic European sports car for half the price of its competitors. The body is built with a form of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. The same material is used to make plastic bottles for drinks.
By using PET, Chrysler believes manufacturing costs could be reduced by 80 percent compared with conventional methods using steel. The plastic body can be recycled and it does not have to be painted. Color is added before the plastic is molded. The Spyder's in-mold color is 'platinum silver.'
PET is less expensive than existing composites used for automotive purposes. PET costs $3.30 a kilogram and only requires a high-strength steel frame. Most automotive composites today cost $11-$22 a kilogram and require a full steel skeleton for structural strength.
Chrysler didn't say before the show whether cars made of PET would meet US and European crash standards. The plastic composite used in the CCV would not.
The Spyder is a rear-wheel-drive concept, equipped with a supercharged 2.4-liter, dual overhead cam engine generating 225hp.