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How Is the Car Industry Embracing Sustainable Materials?

The automobile industry is racing into a greener world, with progressions such as autonomous vehicles, cross-industry collaborations, and supply chain visibility all helping to reduce the size of its carbon footprint. Big strides are also being made in the choice of sustainable materials for various car components and interiors. If you are an eco-warrior, and it is time to replace your old vehicle, what materials should you keep an eye out for?

EVs are Spearheading the Sustainable Material Movement

Electric vehicles are no longer the stuff the future is made of. States like California are banning new ICE vehicle sales from 2035 onwards. This means that 10% of new car sales in the state will be zero emission by this time, and that the amount of electric vehicles will continue to rise dramatically. Electric charging and hydrogen fueling will be spearheading the change, but so will innovative materials within sustainable vehicles. Many EVs, for instance, already contain plush vegan leather interiors made from materials like polyurethane, cork, apple peels, pineapple leaves and other materials. This material looks so good that brands like Tesla, Land Rover, BMW, Mini, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz are all turning to this material for the interiors of many of their top vehicles. 

Embracing the Strength of Natural Fibers

Natural fibers such as soy foam, kenaf fiber, rice hulls, and coconut fiber are just a few natural fibers being used to replace unsustainable materials such as oil-based materials, fiberglass, and plastics. Tequila producers are playing a big role in this movement, since leftover fibers from the agave plant are being used to create eco-friendly bioplastics for motor vehicles and other purposes. Piñatex (made from pineapple), meanwhile, is being used for car mats and other components. Cellulose fiber, which can potentially replace glass fibers in high-performance composites, is 500% stronger than steel. This is one reason why it is also attracting the attention of the aviation industry.

Sustainable Tires

Sustainable tires are no longer at the experimental stage. Goodyear, for instance, has created a tire that contains silica obtained from rice husk ash (a byproduct of rice processing). This material is 70% sustainable, and it reflects the company’s authentic commitment to green manufacture. By 2030, its tires will be 100% sustainable. Michelin also plans to make fully sustainable tires over the next few decades. Currently, its MotoETM tires are 33% sustainable at the front and 40% at the rear. The key ingredients of success int his case are the use of natural rubber and recycled carbon black. To achieve its goals, Michelin has allied with Enviro to create a visionary pyrolysis technology that enables the company to recuperate original components like carbon black (which is virtually pure elemental carbon).

The vehicle industry is currently manufacturing a host of materials that lower its carbon footprint considerably. These include vegan leather, bioplastics, and recycled tires. Many companies in the sector have set lofty ambitions for themselves, and their innovations are showing that they are well on the way to achieving their targets within their designated dates.

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash.