Chevy and Hyundai Using Post Consumer Plastics in Panels

Another interesting innovation made visible at this week’s LA Auto Show is a plastic product called iQ. It’s 85% post-consumer plastic bottles and is manufactured by Sabic plastics (formerly GE-Plastics) and can be used to build body-panels for cars as well as to replace glass in windows.
The net effect: 50% reduction in weight, the ability to form shapes that we not possible before, and a significant diversion of a waste stream.
Two car companies are taking advantage of the product: Hyundai and Chevrolet will use iQ for most of the external and internal panels as well as glazing on their two new concept vehicles, the Volt and the QarmaQ. In the case of the Volt, the prime driving force behind the move is weight – every bit counts with an electric vehicle. In the case of the QarmaQ it was the ability to achieve a shape that would otherwise have been impossible. Either way, both companies will benefit from the added customer satisfaction that comes with purchasing a more sustainable vehicle – assuming they get them beyond the concept stage and on the road soon.

vdv-volt.jpgLooking at the fact sheets on Sabic’s site (the company which purchased GE plastics), it doesn’t look like the iQ post-consumer product is a particularly significant piece of the company’s offerings, most of which are petroleum based, as befits a company headquartered in Saudi Arabia. Still, there is obviously a lot of effort going on towards advancing production and implementation of iQ in other areas. In addition to Chevy and Hyundai, the company is working with Guangzhou Automobile Group, a large Chinese car manufacturer. There’s certainly no shortage of plastic trash in China these days, so the venture is likely to achieve success.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

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