Toyota slates bioresin for cars

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Toyota Motor Corp. will use a sugar-cane-based PET in vehicle liners and other interior surfaces in what it calls the world's first use of the material.

Toyota Tsusho Corp., founded by the carmaker in the 1930s, developed the material with Toyota City-based Toyota. The bio-PET, called Ecological Plastic, offers better heat resistance and durability compared with other bio-based resins and can compete with standard PET, the company said in an Oct. 13 news release.

Toyota believes that its high volume demand for the resin will generate enough production to keep costs lower than other bio-based materials. The material also can be used in both seats and carpeting in addition to standard plastic parts.

Toyota Tsusho replaces standard monoethylene glycol in PET with a raw material made from sugar cane.

Its first use will be in the 2011 Lexus CT200h compact hybrid, as the luggage compartment liner. The car will go on sale in early 2011. From there, the company said it will expand both the number of vehicles using Ecological Plastic as well as the extent of vehicle interior parts using it.

It also will introduce a vehicle in 2011 using the plastic in 80 percent of the interior.

Toyota has used environmentally friendly plastics, both bio-based resins and plastics with recycled content, since 2000. Its Japan-only Sai hybrid debuted in 2009 with 60 percent of its exposed interior surfaces made from bio-plastics.