Sunstrand is dedicated to providing sustainable solutions for our innovative customers.
The automotive industry is continually growing, and the need for ethical sourcing and production is paramount to keep consumers delighted and costs low while meeting the increasing regulations demanding environmental consciousness. The global natural fiber market for automotive is expected to reach over 1.8 billion by 2021, one of the highest among end-users of natural fiber materials. The opportunities for improved environmental consciousness are omnipresent in the automotive industry, ranging from paneling to filtration to composites.
To better understand the potential for natural fibers in the U.S. automotive industry, it is helpful to consider this industry’s European counterpart, which has adopted natural fibers much more extensively. The average motor vehicle produced in Europe in 2012 contained approximately 4lbs. of non-wood natural fibers. If this average had been the same in U.S. production, then approximately 21,594 tons (47.5M lb) of natural fibers would have been used in motor vehicles in 2014.
The most widespread application of natural fiber is for the interior components of the automobiles. Sunstrand supports the automotive industry through close collaboration with partners, developing products to fit specific needs. Our materials are preferred in the automotive industry as they are environmentally-friendly, cost-effective, and lightweight. The first commercial example of natural fiber materials utilized in cars is the inner door panel for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which was made in Germany from a blend of flax, hemp, and sisal. After this, Audi used natural fibers for manufacturing door trim panels, and the industry took off. Lotus recently unveiled the Eco Elise, a model showcasing affordable green technologies such as hemp, eco wool, and sisal in almost the entirety of its parts.
Another specific component where natural fiber materials show immense value are in automotive bumpers. Bumpers undergo a lot of wear and tear as they are the first point of contact in case of a collision. Natural fiber materials make bumpers more resistant to collisions and crashes. In addition to door panels and bumpers, environmentally-conscious materials have applications in: seat backs, parcel shelves, instrument panels, armrests, headrests, seat shells, package trays, trunk liners, and engine or transmission covers.
Sunstrand is the preeminent domestic supplier of sustainable materials to meet the demand, consistency, and stability needs of automotive manufacturers.