Recycled Materials in Cars

There has been a rush from car companies to make the running of the vehicles as green as possible but the materials used can contribute to the greenness of the vehicle. Using recycled materials in cars is something that Tu/Ecomotive have taken in every aspect of their new car.

Luca’s Story

Te/Ecomotive are made up of a student team at the University of Technology Eindhoven. They have been creating vehicles for a little while now and their sixth iteration is called Luca. The idea behind their creation is to use as much recycled material as they can.

Image: Luca is the car that Tu/Ecomotive have produced with as much recycled waste as possible

The sheer amount of waste that is produced by us year-on-year totals to 2.1billion tons and the Ellen Macarthur foundation predicts that by 2050, plastic waste in the sea will weigh more than the fish.

Lisa Van Etten, Project Manager, said the group started in 2019 to build their fully electric, recycled vehicle, “The team want to show that sustainable technology can be sexy, by implementing waste as a valuable material into a sporty looking car.”

Sexy might be push, but they have implemented some clever design to implement what would normally be considered waste material.

The main part of Luca’s chassis is made from flax- fully recycled PET and PP plastics which have come straight out of the ocean. It has a spaceframe at the front and rear of the vehicle made from recycled aluminium and the main body of Luca is made from a unique material developed by UBQ- which makes an additive for plastics out of household waste that usually ends up in landfill.

Image: The Hyundai IONIQ 5 has been a striking addition to the EV market this year and uses recycled materials in the interior (picture courtesy of Hyundai)

From the drive aspect of Luca, it will use in-wheel motors which will reduce energy loss in the drivetrain- meaning the battery-wheel-efficiency will be 92%. To make sure there are no unnecessary items, there is no infotainment system as it will be centred around your phone. So that your eyes are trained on the road though, there is a heads-up display for your speed and navigation.

Although this is an example of what can be done with recycled materials in the modern automotive world, it will not be a mass-produced solution to green travel.

Image: The Kia EV6 is the sister car of the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and uses recycled plastics in the interior (picture courtesy of Kia UK)

However, car companies are beginning to embark on ways to use recycled materials within the manufacture of their cars.

Which car manufacturers are making the most of recycled materials?

Hyundai and Kia have been investing in the recycling of the PET and PCM plastics that are currently filling up our oceans and the wildlife within it too. The new Kia EV6 has floor mats made from recycled PET plastic and in the door trim as well as recycled PCM plastic in the dashboard.

Image: The interior of the EV6 provides functionality, luxury and recycled materials (picture courtesy of Kia UK)

The Hyundai IONIQ 5 uses eco-processed leather (like the BMW i3 which uses olive tree leaves to process the leather rather than formaldehyde and other chemicals) and recycled yarn for the seating and fabric interior. Rather than using oil-based plastics, the IONIQ 5 also uses raw materials extracted from sugar cane in the headliner, carpet and seat covers.

Who else is doing it?

There are other manufacturers doing it too such as Toyota- who recycle used cars with an efficacy rate of around 96%. Honda use old bumpers to make mudflaps and splash guards and others too. However, if we are going to all this trouble to make cars run on green power- we need to make sure that cars are built from the ground up in recycled materials- like Tu/Ecomotive have shown we can- to truly make motoring as sustainable as possible.

What can we do to help?

If you are thinking of switching the petrol pump for the charging plug, then you can talk to us about the options on offer to you at Van MonkEV for a sustainable motoring experience.

As always, thanks for reading and we hope to speak to you soon.

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