The foot-activated parking brake on the '98 Chrysler LH cars is a big new step for plastics - it shows how confident automakers are in replacing metal with plastic in applications requiring very high strength, proponents say.

Displayed at the 1998 SAE exposition by BASF Plastic Materials, the Chrysler nylon parking brake pedal follows previously introduced accelerator pedals molded of glass fiber reinforced Ultramid nylon supplied by BASF. However, the parking brake has to withstand pressure 300% greater than the typical load on an accelerator pedal. The part replaces a steel assembly and is claimed to improve brake performance, cut weight, reduce assembly steps and lower manufacturing costs. It's molded by Montaplast of North America in Frankfort, KY, from Ultramid B3G8, a 40% glass-reinforced nylon 6.