BMW Group sought help from two suppliers to reduce the weight of one of the Mini Countryman's biggest structural parts.
The result: an instrument panel carrier made of lightweight foam instead of plastic, shaving 15 percent from its weight.
Now the suppliers wonder if the process can produce high-quality interior parts.
BMW partnered for the Countryman project with interior systems producer International Automotive Components Group and chemical supplier Saudi Basic Industries Corp.
"We add value when we are involved upfront and we're able to influence design, process and material selection," Scott Fallon, SABIC's global automotive business leader, told Automotive News.
IAC's contribution was Coreback, an injection molding process that allows a chemical foaming agent to be added to the resin during molding. The result is a product that has stiffness, reduced weight and greater flexibility in design.
SABIC joined the team as IAC's close partner, said Frank Schumann, IAC's manager of the advanced material and process group Europe.
"SABIC has been one of our major partners for instrument panels for years," Schumann said. "We brought our engineering competencies and they brought the hardware side."