It is an automobile manufacturer’s dream to create something with precision, repeatability, and economy. But what material can be hard as steel, flexible as paper, or as soft as a blanket? The answer is plastic. Not only does it offer all the benefits of durability and flexibility, but it can also protect the moving parts of the cars from oxidation, corrosion, heat, and cold.
From hatchbacks, sedans, to high-end sports cars, plastics continue to play a major role in revolutionizing the automobile industry. In the quest for developing lighter, safer, and fuel-efficient vehicles, automobile manufacturers are now opting for durable and lightweight plastics. Let’s have a look at the applications of advanced plastics in automobiles and the role they play in making our lives convenient.
Plastic materials play a crucial role in protecting us while driving our vehicles. For instance, bumpers are made of polycarbonates and absorb four to five times of energy during impact. In addition, the seatbelts and airbags that make our cars safe are made of high-strength polyamides. Now speaking about windshields, did you know that they are shatterproof? Thanks to the thin layer of plastic such as PVB that is sandwiched between two layers of glass. This makes them lighter and stronger.
When it comes to fuel efficiency, the current regulations state that by 2023, vehicles need to achieve the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard of 4.77litre/100km, a slight but significant dip compared to 5.2litre/100km this year. This deadline has now prompted auto manufacturers to employ multiple means to make vehicles more fuel-efficient.
Research also shows that for every 10 percent reduction in vehicle weight, it improves fuel efficiency by 6 to 8 percent. Manufacturers are now testing and incorporating more advanced plastic materials into the manufacturing process so as to reduce weight and make the vehicles more fuel-efficient.
For more than half a century, plastics have enabled automobile manufacturers to make lives more convenient and create amazing new technologies. So as long as there is plastic, the innovations in automobiles are only limited to our imagination!