The thermoplastic underbody shielding was developed and manufactured by Takeo Automotive Systems GmbH, of Diefurt, Germany, in cooperation with Quadrant Plastic Composites, Lenzburg, Switzerland, on design, tool development, processing line lay-out and material selection.
The shielding made of Quadrant's SymaLITE thermoplastic composite covers a significant part of the car’s underbody and is said to result in improved aerodynamics, a more comfortable and quieter ride, and better fuel efficiency.
SymaLITE is a lightweight composite based on polypropylene (PP) and glass fibres.
“SymaLITE is an intelligent composite material with specially orientated glass fibres that give it superior rigidity and shape at low weight," according to Harri Dittmar, Automotive Product Manager at Quadrant Plastics Composites. "By varying the mix of fibre and PP resins in relation to the functional surface layers, the material’s properties can be adapted to match the performance demands of the part, giving greater design and processing flexibility than competitive offerings.”
As well as noise absorption qualities, SymaLITE thermoplastic underbody shields and wheel arch liners are said to be extremely tough and stiff and offer excellent resistance to ageing, crack development, and stone-chipping.
BMW started using SymaLITE in underbody shields in 2003 and, according to Quadrant, the composite is now being adopted by other OEMs, including Porsche, Toyota and Audi.