A month ago, I reported on the bits and pieces of carbon fiber showing up on vehicles — and even included in subsequent press releases — at Detroit's North American International Auto Show. Several automakers touted the term with confidence because carbon fiber is still a member of the cool club.
As Mike Siwajek, vice president of research and development at Auburn Hills-based composites supplier Continental Structural Plastics Inc., put it: "It's still sexy, right? It still generates some buzz."
It's sort of old news that automotive executives, head designers, etc., are selective about which terms they're using to describe the materials used on their vehicles. Sometimes you'll get a mashup of adjectives that a Plastics News editor would probably slice down to one word: plastics. Other times, as was the experience of PN's News Editor Rhoda Miel, you'll get a puzzling response like SKP, which apparently stands for "some kind of plastic."
That's why I'd like to take a minute and call attention to luxury car brand Jaguar Land Rover for not steering away from using the P-word — cue the gasping; yes, it's plastic, everyone. In its press release for the 2020 Range Rover Evoque, the word "plastic" shows up three times.
The compact sport utility vehicle made its U.S. debut Feb. 7 at the Chicago Auto Show. On the Evoque, consumers can choose seats upholstered with Danish textile designer Kvadrat's durable wool blend paired with its Dinamica suedecloth made from 53 recycled plastic bottles per vehicle, the automaker said.
And it wasn't the first time Jaguar Land Rover offered what it calls "sumptuous alternatives to leather." In March 2017, the automaker also had the suedecloth material option for seating on the Range Rover Velar SUV.
"The way we make our vehicles and the materials that go into them are of vital importance to everyone at Jaguar Land Rover," Chris Thorp, Jaguar Land Rover's responsible business director, said in the release. "The use of recycled and natural materials in the new Evoque … underpins our approach to sustainable luxury."