Announcing the increased number of vehicles with laminated sidelites at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (See news item following this one.), Mike Sanders, Enhanced Protective Glass Automotive Association (EPGAA) president and director for DuPont Automotive Safety Systems, stated, "It is the goal of the EPGAA to educate the industry and consumers on using laminated glass in applications other than windshields. We are pleased to see the continued increase in adoption of laminated glass; it shows that automakers and consumers alike are realizing the extended benefits of this technology."
In a recent conversation, glassBYTEs asked him what activities the group has undertaken to achieve this education goal. Among other things, he said, it has been involved in interaction with the tier one manufacturers about the benefits of the product and with fire and police groups where it has given demonstrations on what to expect and what to do when they encounter a vehicle with laminated sidelites. There has also been interaction with insurance groups to educate them on the benefits of laminated sidelites for both themselves and their policyholders, he added.
"We're at a critical mass point," Sanders stated. "Laminated sidelites are 8 percent of total North American auto glass production. Between 2004 and last year there has been a 50 percent increase in sidelite applications in North America for laminated glass."
Now, he continued, "we're going to the Ward's, Edmund's, Cars.com-these places where consumers go to get information about vehicles and when they are buying cars. We see this as the next step in reaching consumers about this product."
He pointed out that the group is also working with the vehicle manufacturers as they are implementing laminated sidelite programs to be sure they are getting good information in their literature about the product and its benefits.
The group is also working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to provide information for testing and as a technical interface.
What can the aftermarket look for, he is asked. "Look for two or three programs launched for the aftermarket to upgrading vehicles with laminated sidelites," he stated. Sanders said that as consumers become more educated about the safety advantages of this product, more will decide to switch. He also pointed out that there is the replacement glass of fleet vehicles going out now that may want to upgrade. "The aftermarket players will promote laminated sidelite upgrades because this gives them a way to differentiate themselves in the market," he stated.
Also, specialty programs will continue to expand. "There is more experimentation in the aftermarket," he stated.
Sanders looks back at the accomplishments in the five years since the group was formed, and sees a successful impact. "This was the first attempt to form an industry group to carry out these efforts and for it to be going strong is a success."
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