NANTERRE, FRANCE and AUBURN HILLS, MI-- Faurecia , the world's sixth-largest automotive supplier, was awarded top honors from the Automotive Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) for Faurecia Interior Systems' work with Ford Motor Co. on the 2012 Ford Escape compact SUV & Kuga compact CUV. The companies earned SPE's Grand Awards for "Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies" and the overall "Most Innovative Use of Automotive Plastics in 2011." The awards were presented during SPE's 41st Annual Innovation Awards Competition & Gala on Nov. 9 at Burton Manor in Livonia, MI.

"This MuCell instrument panel is the largest automotive component molded in the patented MuCell injection-molded process as well as the first instrument panel to be molded in this process, a tremendous achievement for Faurecia and Ford," said Jean-Michel Renaudie, president of Faurecia Interior Systems, North America. "In an industry that is highly impacted by volatile gas prices and stricter regulations, every ounce saved on a vehicle makes a difference. This process has enabled us to remove more than one pound of weight from the vehicle and save time on production."

MuCell involves the addition of a gas into the molded part during the injection process, which reduces the overall weight of the part because less plastic is used, while still maintaining the performance of the finished part. This helps Ford meet vehicle weight-reduction targets, which in turn helps improve overall gas mileage.

Faurecia also received the "Safety Innovation Award" for its Reinforced Airbag Lid in Foam (RALF) featured on the global 2011 Ford Focus compact car. RALF enables vehicle designers and stylists more design freedom around the instrument panel (IP) without compromising consumer comfort and safety. Faurecia's innovative RALF technology eliminates the need to provide room for a hard-cover airbag lid to open without damaging the windshield, providing the flexibility to help designers better apply their creativity to the IP's design, function and space.

The SPE Automotive Innovation Awards Competition was started in 1970 to recognize the positive changes that polymeric materials were bringing to the automotive industry, such as weight reduction, parts consolidation and enhanced aesthetics and design freedom. SPE's Automotive Innovation Awards program is the oldest and largest competition of its kind in the automotive and plastics industries.

The mission of SPE is to promote scientific and engineering knowledge relating to plastics worldwide and to educate industry, academia and the public about these advances. SPE's Automotive Division is active in educating, promoting, recognizing and communicating technical accomplishments for all phases of plastics and plastic-based composite developments in the global transportation industry. Topic areas include applications, materials, processing, equipment, tooling, design and development.