Japan – In collaboration with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, the OEM has developed ‘Mazda Biotechmaterial’ for vehicle exterior design parts. Derived from plants, the new plastic is designed to minimise environmental impact, primarily by reducing the consumption of petroleum resources and cutting CO2 emissions.

The material can be dyed, reducing emissions of the volatile organic compounds associated with conventional painting processes. Mazda claims that dyed parts made from the ‘bio-based’ engineering plastic can deliver a finish which is superior to traditional painted plastic, making it “suitable for external vehicle parts with a high design factor”.

The OEM says that, in combination with the need for a high finish quality, the requirement for exterior parts to be resistant to scratches, impacts and harsh environmental conditions posed a technical challenge in development. This was overcome by optimising the composition of a new, highly mouldable and durable bio-plastic base material with additive and colouring agents. Moulding specifications were also optimised. The resultant parts are claimed to be as durable as conventional ABS plastic components.

Mazda has been working on biomass technologies for a number of years and previously developed a high-strength, heat-resistant ‘bio-plastic’ for interior parts, plus a ‘bio-fabric’ for seat upholstery made entirely from plant fibres.