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Sabic thermoplastic is key to electric car speed record

Sabic EV Supplied
Sabic helped optimise the aerodynamics of the Genbeta, the electric race car which set a new world record at the 2023 Hankook London E-Prix
  • Saudi petrochemicals giant develops material to improve EVs
  • Without combustion engine, EVs can replace more metal with plastic
  • Sabic supplies parts material for PIF-backed Lucid

As it flew around a track at the 2023 Hankook London E-Prix last month, electric race car Genbeta reached nearly 219 kilometres per hour, setting a new Guinness World Record for the fastest speed achieved by a vehicle indoors.

Saudi Arabian petrochemicals giant Sabic developed thermoplastic materials to improve the performance of the vehicle – an innovation that can translate from the race track to the road.

The company helped optimise the aerodynamics of the Genbeta – contributing to its acceleration and speed performance, through the integration of its thermoplastics to create the car’s 3D printed front wing endplates, wheel fins and a wind deflector.

The vehicle forms part of the Genbeta development project, which aims to explore new materials and technologies for electric vehicles (EVs) both on the race track and on the road.

The project is part of Sabic’s partnership with the world’s first all-electric FIA World Championship.

“We have quite a bit of experience in the automotive industry,” Lina Prada, technology director of polymer development at Sabic, told AGBI at London’s ExCeL arena.

“Parts of electric cars can potentially be made of lighter plastic, such as the front end of the car, the bumper of the car and all the lighting system.”

Mark Williams, vice president for Europe, Sabic, said: “Electric vehicles now give you even more application because they don’t have the hot combustion engine which used to require metallic support.

“Now that those are removed, you can replace even more with plastic.”

SabicSupplied
The race track at London’s ExCeL arena where races in the FIA World Championship were held in July

Sabic’s involvement in Genbeta complements the role Saudi Arabia is playing in boosting the kingdom’s goal of becoming an EV hub.

Sabic is working with US-headquartered luxury EV maker Lucid Group, with the latter having established its Middle East regional headquarters in Riyadh in 2021.

Saudi’s sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF) holds a 60.5 percent stake in Lucid Group.

Sabic’s polycarbonate Lexan resin is specifically supplied to the parts manufacturer to make the casing for the Lucid Air battery module.

“Last year at the K-Show, our annual plastic exhibition, we exhibited the battery pouch of the Lucid car, which is made with our thermoplastic material,” Prada said.  

SabicReuter/Hyunjoo Jin
From race track to road: Lucid Air electric car parts are made of Sabic thermoplastics

It can produce a unique battery pack which integrates the electrical conductor directly into the housing in a one-shot molding process.

The Lucid Air uses thermoplastics from Sabic in more than 25 applications, ranging from structural, EV battery and electrical components to exterior and interior parts.

Sabic has also partnered with Ceer, Saudi’s first local automotive brand to produce EVs, which was granted an industrial licence in June.

Ceer is a joint venture between the PIF and Taiwanese multinational Foxconn.

It will design, manufacture and sell a range of EVs that will become available in 2025. 

The Sabic material saves costs by functional integration, delivers up to 40 percent in weight savings, contributes to extended vehicle range, is recyclable, and has a lower overall CO2 footprint.

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