The average modern car weighing 1,500 kg contains between 12-15% of plastic materials. This equates to over 2,000 plastic parts of all shapes and sizes; from lights and bumpers, to engine components, dashboards, headrests, switches, clips, panoramic roofs, seats, airbags and seat belts.
Plastics help to make cars lighter, thus reducing fuel demand and greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing a modern car's weight by 100 kg cuts fuel consumption by approximately 0.4 litres per 100 km and reduces CO2 emissions by around 10 g/km.
Polyolefins and polyols
are present in parts of the interior, the exterior and under the bonnet. Polyols are used to manufacture flexible and rigid foams.
The flexible foams give the seats and head restraints their shape to make them more comfortable and ergonomic, reducing the stress and fatigue associated with driving. Rigid, impact-absorbing foams provide increased safety.
Other plastic parts made of polypropylene
, for example, are the door panels; polyethylene
is found in the fuel tank; EVA copolymers
in the adhesives and industrial propylene glycol
in the antifreeze that can prevent freezing or boiling. It is also, a very important capability in the de-icing of aircraft wings and car windshields.