The best ideas are often the simplest. To better deal with day-to-day scratches, the All New Dacia Sandero Stepway and the All New Dacia Duster now feature mass-coloured skid plates. Sanam, Colour and Trim Designer for Dacia brand, tells us about the aesthetic, economic, and environmental advantages of their manufacturing method.
Let's talk skid plates! That is the word used to refer to the pieces of plastic located under the front and rear bumpers that protect the lower part of the vehicle from regular wear and tear. The skids also serve to enhance the overall aesthetics of the bumpers. True to its cunning mindset and constant search for that which is essential, Dacia rethought the way skids plates were made by opting for pieces out of mass-coloured plastics.
A painted skid plate changes over time. A mass-coloured skid is long-lasting.
Sanam, Colour and Trim Designer at Dacia
The best value for money without sacrificing on aesthetics
Sanam, 31, Colour and Trim Designer at Dacia, is here to tell us all there is to know about skid plates: "The skid plate design on the All New Dacia Sandero Stepway and the All New Dacia Duster showcases our goal of giving customers intelligent solutions, which focus on the essentials, for the best value for money without ever sacrificing on aesthetics. This is achieved by devising efficient manufacturing processes that also take into account environmental concerns.“
Mounted under the front and rear bumpers, skid plates protect against everyday scrapes and bumps
The traditional way of making skid plates is a two-step process. First, a plastic material known as polypropylene is injected into a mould to give the part its final form. Then, once injected, it can be painted or covered with a die stamped piece – chrome for example – to enhance the final look.
A colour that doesn't change
Dacia has opted for another way. The All New Dacia Sandero Stepway and the All New Dacia Duster feature skid plates that are mass-coloured. It means that the plastic material used to make the part is already coloured. Therefore, the colour never changes, much unlike a regular layer of paint.
Capable of dealing with the harshest environments, the New Duster now features an impressive skid plate
Sanam continues: "When you paint an external part, such as a skid plate, even if you use highly resistant paints, the usual bumps and scratches that come with driving a vehicle will alter the paint job, sometimes even removing it entirely. By using mass-coloured parts, the colour finish lasts much longer.“
The bumps and scratches that skid plates are bound to get will leave a mark, but such marks will be virtually invisible as the original colour will remain unaltered.
A simple, virtuous, and efficient method
This manufacturing process guarantees skid plates with long-lasting colours and can even benefit from a design upgrade by changing out the black parts for grey parts... they are just as robust, come at no extra cost, and look far more elegant overall.
Not to forget the potential savings for vehicle owners, who will no longer need to have the part replaced after a minor scratch just to maintain the overall appearance of their Sandero Stepway or Duster.
The skid plate is made of mass-coloured plastic that doesn't lose its colour when scratched or damaged
In manufacturing processes, simplicity is also often the mother of all virtues. To that extent, mass-coloured skid plates are made in a single step – plastic injection – as opposed to at least two steps for plates that are painted or later fitted with other parts. It also comes with the bonus of lower manufacturing costs that benefit end customers and a more environmentally friendly process.
When it comes to the environment, mass-coloured skid plates offer much more. As Sanam says:
"A single-material part – here it’s plastic – is very interesting in terms of recycling. The reverse also applies: when you have skid plates with chrome or other materials, you may not be able to recycle such parts as easily. Today, finding ways to recycle parts is essential for Dacia designers.“
The circular economy, an essential approach
The circular economy is a fundamental aspect of Dacia’s overall approach: "Mass-coloured skid plates are an example of the brand's intrinsic approach: find ways to create value for the customer, to design vehicles with manufacturing processes that are robust, cost-effective, intelligent, and that incorporate the notions of circular economy and recycling, which are now essential points for both Dacia and the Group.“
To that extent, the Bigster Concept provides a glimpse into Dacia’s future. And Sanam is clearly excited: "The brand’s future is particularly exciting. We are going to stay true to the essential shapes yet branch out to something more ‘outdoor’, and ever more robust. And when we talk about it being ‘robust’, it means thinking carefully about how we use materials. We have been thinking about plastics at great length, and we feel that by using recycled and recyclable plastics, we will be able to step up the strategy we presented with the Bigster Concept, by creating models that are increasingly exciting and greater value for money.“
Many protective parts on the Bigster Concept are made of recycled and recyclable materials