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SPE Fetes Automotive Innovation Award Winners

The Ford F-150 Lightning's front trunk — the largest in the industry — won the Body Interior Category and also captured the Grand Award.

Stephen Moore

November 14, 2023

3 Min Read
Ford F-150 Lightning frunk
Image courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

The Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) unveiled the winners of its 52nd annual Automotive Innovation Awards at a gala held on Nov. 8 at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI. The Body Interior Category winner was also this year’s Grand Award winner. This year’s winners by category are featured here. (The Lifetime Achievement, Vehicle Engineering Team, and Hall of Fame award winners will be covered in separate articles.)

Grand Award and Body Interior Category Winner: Mega Bin/Frunk

  • OEM make and model: 2024 Ford Motor Co. Ford F-150 Lightning

  • Tier supplier and processor: Cascade Engineering

  • Material Supplier: Celanese

  • Toolmaker: Commercial Tool Group

  • Material: Celstran PP-GF40 AD3004 polypropylene long-fiber thermoplastic (PP-LFT) with 40% glass reinforcement

  • Process: Injection molding

By converting from compression molded painted sheet molding compound (SMC) to injection molded PP-LFT to produce this large Class A composite front trunk, or frunk, (pictured above) — currently the industry’s largest — mass is reduced 48%, productivity increased owing to a 37% cycle-time reduction, the cost and environmental burden of paint is eliminated, seal interfaces are improved, secondary routering of holes is no longer needed, and the frunk is fully recyclable at end of life. A 4,000-tonne injection press and tool equipped with a 16-drop hot-runner system are used to mold parts.

Aftermarket and Limited Edition/Specialty Vehicles Category: Hybrid Battery Interconnect Board

  • OEM make and model: 2024 General Motors Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

  • Tier supplier and processor: Sun Microstamping Technologies

  • Material supplier: BASF

  • Toolmaker: Sun Microstamping Technologies

  • Material: Ultramid B3UG4 polyamide (PA) 6

  • Process: Vertical clamp parting line injection rotary molded – insert overmolding


This patented hybrid battery interconnect board features small and delicate metal current collectors, bus bars, and sensing lines in a very compact design to fit in limited packaging space. The 20%-glass-fiber-reinforced PA 6 grade was selected for its ability to offer high levels of functional integration in limited space and its compatibility with snapfits, heat staking, ultrasonic welding, and adhesive bonding. The material is also heat stabilized and flame retardant. Laminated core-block inserts are used in rotary injection tooling for venting and to control stampings during overmolding.

Electric & Autonomous Vehicle Systems Category: Battery Disconnect Unit

  • OEM make and model: 2023 General Motors GMC Hummer EV

  • Tier supplier: Lear

  • Processor: US Farthane

  • Material supplier: BASF

  • Toolmaker: USF Delta Tooling

  • Material: Ultramid H2 G25 polyamide (PA) 66 V0KB1 and Ultradur B4550G5 polybutylene terephthalate (PBT)

  • Process: Injection molding


Two battery disconnect units (BDUs) have been integrated into a single system supporting two 400-V systems, which enable fast and safe recharging of electric vehicles (EVs) and disconnection of power in an over-current situation to protect passengers. The meter-long parts feature a complex design that offers improved thermal management and reduced component mass. Two UL 94 V0 halogen-free materials — one with a very high comparative tracking index (CTI) — replaced die-cast aluminum while maintaining superior physical properties and ease of processing. Complex simulation and process optimization were also key to success.

Winners previously profiled in PlasticsToday:

Body Exterior Category: Thermoplastic Splitgate

Materials Category: Battery Module Sideplates

Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies Category: Seat Module

Safety Category: Intumescent Terminal Covers

Sustainability Category: One-Piece Frunk

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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