In an era where sustainability is a non-negotiable cornerstone of innovation, the automotive industry is taking active measures to reduce its environmental impact. From electric vehicles (EV) to innovative materials, the automotive industry is steering toward a greener and more eco-conscious future.
In this blog post, Microban explores the top 5 sustainability trends in the automotive industry. We will discuss the benefits of incorporating antimicrobial technologies into car surfaces, materials, and components to improve sustainability.
1. Optimizing lightweight materials for fuel efficiency
Plastic and polymer composites are increasingly used in car manufacturing to reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel efficiency. These materials also minimize stress on automobile parts, ensuring better durability and resulting in fewer replacements.
According to a report by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the use of plastics in automobiles has increased by 16% to 411 pounds on average from 2012 to 2021. Despite making up less than 10% of the weight of an average vehicle, these plastics contribute to about 50% of its volume. This shift towards lighter automotive materials reduces carbon emissions, lowers energy consumption, and decreases fuel costs.
2. Increasing the longevity of materials
Automotive manufacturers are increasingly working towards improving their degree of circularity by increasing the longevity of materials and car parts, such as tires, interiors, and bodyshells.
Skoda is one example of this, implementing a zero-waste-to-landfill program across their production plants in Czech, India, and Russia. In addition, Volkswagen is committed to using 100% recycled materials in its fabrics, carpets, seats, door trim, and decorative inlays.
Car manufacturers are taking steps towards circularity by investing in innovative and durable coatings to protect their critical components and maintain the aesthetic appeal of their vehicles. Rust is a major concern for vehicle longevity, particularly in regions with harsh climates. By incorporating longer-lasting coatings in car manufacturing, the automotive industry can significantly improve vehicle sustainability, reduce its environmental impact, and promote the extension of vehicle lifespans.
3. Driving shared mobility services
Shared mobility services are revolutionizing the way people travel in urban areas. These services reduce the need for private car ownership through ride-sharing models like Uber and Lyft and contribute to mitigating emissions, improving air quality, and creating more sustainable urban environments.
4. Switching to advanced interior fabrics
Traditional car upholstery materials like leather and synthetic fabrics are resource-intensive during production, consuming vast amounts of water and energy. Additionally, high-traffic areas like driver’s seats often experience severe wear and tear, necessitating early replacement, which contributes to textile waste.
In response to these challenges, automakers and upholstery manufacturers are investing in research and development to create advanced materials that are more durable and resistant to wear and tear. These materials boast a longer lifespan, reducing the need for frequent replacements and the use of harsh cleaning agents that can pollute waterways and impair air quality.
5. Utilizing innovative antimicrobial product protection
Integrated built-in antimicrobial solutions can improve the sustainability of cars and encourage sustainable practices, particularly in car-sharing.
In recent years, car sharing has gained immense popularity as a sustainable and more affordable alternative to traditional car ownership. Yet, the viability of car sharing, including public taxi services, hinges on the cleanliness and upkeep of the vehicles themselves. This is where integrated antimicrobial treatments come into play.
By incorporating these technologies into interior car surfaces, car-sharing services gain a significant advantage in terms of enhanced cleanliness. When prospective customers spot a car equipped with antimicrobial technology, it fosters trust and provides users with added peace of mind. This, in turn, acts as a powerful incentive for greater participation in car sharing, resulting in fewer vehicles on the road, lower emissions, reduced traffic congestion, and a smaller overall carbon footprint - all pivotal steps toward a more sustainable future.
It is also known that microbes, including bacteria, mold, and mildew, can wreak havoc on car components and interiors over time. Without innovative solutions, car upholstery, floor mats, and other interior components are prone to unsightly stains, unpleasant odors, and even structural damage. In order to rectify these issues, people often resort to harsh cleaning chemicals that pollute waterways, degrade air quality, and impair product performance. Antimicrobial technology provides 24/7/365 surface protection from degrading microbes for the lifetime of the product. This not only keeps car interior surfaces cleaner between cleans but also enhances the longevity of components.
Key benefits of antimicrobial automotive materials:
Stay cleaner in between cleaning and are easier to keep clean
Protected from stains and odors caused by bacteria
More durable and longer-lasting
Lifetime performance against microbial growth
Present a low-risk investment for automotive manufacturers
Support sustainability initiatives, such as ride-sharing, and promote a circular economy
The road to a cleaner, greener future
To maintain a leading position in the market and stay competitive, the automotive industry must be prepared to adapt and embrace sustainability trends. This is necessary to meet the expectations of environmentally conscious consumers and to contribute to both local and national government sustainability objectives.
By improving car cleanliness, promoting car-sharing, and reducing environmental impact, these innovations are paving the way for a cleaner, more eco-friendly, and responsible future for transportation.