The automotive industry is changing every year – solutions that were once considered state-of-the-art are now becoming standard. New regulations in the area of safety and sustainability affect all manufacturers in the automotive sector, regardless of the class of vehicles a given company deals with. The materials used in the construction of individual car components are of great importance in this field. What are the latest trends in car manufacturing?
What are customers looking for when choosing a car?
Changes in production in the automotive market are directly linked to changes in user needs and expectations. In recent years, there has been a greater emphasis on safety. When making a decision to purchase a vehicle, many factors come into play, including its cost-effectiveness, design, equipment and type. For many years, performance has also played a key role and is still fundamental, but more and more drivers pay attention to solutions that affect the eco-friendliness of driving and the safety of road users.
Moreover, cars that do not meet certain safety and environmental requirements may simply not be allowed on the road. Increased environmental awareness is also having a significant impact on trends in the automotive market – both traffic and vehicle manufacturing are responsible for a large portion of pollution. All this means that today's car manufacturers have a very different approach than even a dozen years ago.
Protecting the environment is as important as safety on the road
The same way that safety is important, sustainability is also vital both to manufacturers and customers. Year after year, low-emission models are becoming more popular among drivers – and gradually more of them are being manufactured as well. Noteworthy, among others, is the latest edition of Toyota Yaris, which became the European Car of the Year 2021. The jury appreciated above all the extraordinary fuel economy and low emissions. The new model of the popular Yaris is equipped with an electric-hybrid drive system. This is an attractive solution not only in terms of sustainability, but also due to the excellent performance and increased efficiency of the electric engine alone at higher speeds.
The Japanese manufacturer has also decided to equip the Yaris 4 model with specially designed components that stand out with their low weight – one of the most important factors for reducing energy demand. Many of the foam parts used in the new Toyota Yaris were manufactured by Knauf Industries. This approach has helped to reduce the vehicle's weight and – consequently – CO2 emissions.
Car technical solutions for safety in automobile manufacturing
Pedestrian safety is also a major concern in the production of modern cars. For manufacturers, pedestrians are just as important as the passengers – a welcome trend, given that pedestrians are generally at a disadvantage when confronted with a vehicle. This is where some of Knauf Industries' projects are also worth mentioning, namely the special frontal pedestrian passive protection module on the Renault Captur.
How does this solution work? The absorber in the bumper is responsible for absorbing the energy produced during an impact, providing protection to all mechanical components behind it. Among the greatest advantages of the pedestrian protection module are its very low weight and relatively high flexibility, which translates into better protection in the event of a collision. These requirements are met by materials such as expanded polypropylene (EPP) – a shock-resistant, very lightweight plastic that is enjoying increasing use in the automotive market.
Advanced materials that reduce shock and withstand impact are the important trend in car manufacturing
The previously mentioned expanded polypropylene (EPP) and expanded polystyrene (EPS) are two materials that an increasing number of automotive manufacturers are reaching for. Their use makes vehicles not only lighter but also safer. Both EPP and EPS are thermoplastic materials and are used by Knauf Industries in interior components.
For safety reasons itt is so important to take care also of passive systems which minimize the effects of collisions. A very good trend in this area is the widespread use of sustainable plastic solutions, especially for car external components which are essential in terms of shock absorption. Expanded polypropylene thanx to its shock-absorbing properties is also widely used in passive safety systems. When a collision occurs, the EPP or EPS components deform briefly and return back to their shape , so they also absorbing a very large amount of energy. This way, the accumulation of force on the passengers is greatly diminished, which can significantly reduce injuries in the event of an accident.
Knauf Industries specializes in the production of front and rear bumpers, grills and bumper shock absorbers, among other things. It is worth noting that these are the components that are most vulnerable in the event of a potential accident. The use of EPP and other expanded materials in the production of car components makes it possible to reduce the weight of the vehicle, which in turn has a positive impact on the economy of driving and ecology.