Novi, Mich. — What will they think of next?
I found myself thinking that after two presentations on emerging materials that are, or could potentially be, used in vehicles during the Plastics & Rubber in Automotive conference in January.
The two presenters were Alper Kiziltas, a research scientist at Ford Motor Co. and a familiar face if you've attended any auto-themed conferences organized by the Society of Plastics Engineers, and Kylee Guenther, CEO and co-founder of Pivot Materials LLC.
Let's start with Ford.
It wasn't the first time Kiziltas spoke to an audience about the growing number of materials — keyword: sustainable — that the automaker is pursuing. But tallying the list and taking a closer look shows how Ford has taken a "don't knock it until you've tried it" approach to its materials development.
The automaker is already using recycled plastic bottles to make floor carpeting and wheel liners in the Ford Transit and C-Max vehicles as well as in the Repreve fabric used in the F-150 pickup truck. Castor bean oil is used for the nylon fuel lines in most of its vehicles and for instrument panel soft-touch foams. And it's old news now that Ford has been using soy-based polyurethane foam in seat backs, cushions and head restraints in every North American-built vehicle, following the material's debut on the 2008 Mustang.