Plastics are used in a variety of innovative ways to help make cars safer and more fuel efficient. They’re at the heart of solutions that make vehicles more lightweight, help increase fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, help provide safety benefits like seatbelts and airbags and, plastics help to enable beautiful, sleek contouring and design.
What's more, as car makers work to meet sustainability goals and use recovered materials, a growing number of car parts are made using recycled plastics.
Plastics contribute to safety throughout automobiles:
- Made from durable strands of polyester fiber, seat belts alone helped save nearly 15,000 lives in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Airbags, commonly made from high-strength nylon fabric, can reduce the risk of dying in a direct, frontal car crash by about 30 percent, according to NHTSA statistics.
- Child safety seats made possible by numerous advancements in polymer science help to protect our kids at every turn.
Weight reduction in automotive design is a key driver in boosting fuel efficiency, reducing emissions and lowering costs for motorists. Many plastic components can weigh 50 percent less than similar components made from other materials. Modern innovations mean today’s plastics make up 50 percent of a vehicle’s volume, but only about 10 percent of its weight.
Style & Innovation
Plastics deliver engineering and styling qualities for modern automobiles. In exterior applications, from bumper to bumper, plastics are not only light weight, they give designers the freedom to create innovative concepts that in many instances would otherwise be impractical or virtually impossible. Plastics also resist dents, dings, stone chips and corrosion. They allow cost-saving part consolidation and facilitate modular assembly practices for reduced production costs.