The future looks brighter for plastic exterior vehicle parts as automakers intensify their search for weight-saving ideas. After suffering a blow nearly a decade ago, when General Motors abandoned its pioneering use of polymer body panels on its Saturn lineup, plastics are poised for a comeback, says Venkatakrishnan Umamaheswaran global automotive marketing director for Sabic Innovative Plastics. The two main reasons: 1. Weight reduction is a more urgent priority for automakers in 2012, and plastics offer as much as a 50 percent weight savings over comparable parts made of steel. 2. Suppliers have made manufacturing with plastic parts easier and less expensive. The 2002 Saturn Vue had plastic body panels, but General Motors was dissatisfied with the material’s exterior appearance. The panels needed room to expand when hot, resulting in wider than normal gaps in the body.