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Automotive & Transport

Plastics are used in the in the transportation sector almost since the beginning of the automotive industry. Previously, the first side curtains in horse and buggy rigs were made of cellulose nitrate sheet.

However, the real plastics revolution in the transportation industry only began in 1950, when thermoplastics made their debut. These new forms widened the spectrum of use that could be made of plastics and in the 1960s, thermoset plastics were already widely used in automobiles.

The lightness, flexibility and the many qualities of plastics have proved to be of genuine benefit to the automotive and transport industry, reducing overall weight of cars and leading to less fuel consumption. 

Scroll down to read more about the advantages and many applications of plastics in the building and construction sector.

Advantages of Plastics in Transportation 


Plastics can be moulded into components of complex geometries, often replacing several parts at once. This reduces assembling complexity, the need for other materials and allows for integral fitments of cars. A reduction of costs on the assembly line is another benefit.


The light weight of plastics has been a real benefit to the industry, not only by reducing overall weight and thereby enabling the reduction of fuel consumption, but also by allowing more sophisticated components, including safety systems, to be incorporated into the modern car without creating considerable additional weight.

Resource efficiency

The resource efficiency of plastics can be shown clearly with some numbers from the automotive industry. Without plastics, it is estimated that today's cars would be around 200-300 kg heavier. That means plastics enable the saving of 0.5 l per 100 km which accumulates to 750 l for a car with a lifetime of 150,000 km.


Many types of polymers are used in more than 1,000 different parts of all shapes and sizes. Up to 13 different polymers may be used in a single car model. A quick look at any model of car shows the versatility of plastics, which are now used in exterior and interior components such as bumpers, doors, seat belts, airbags, windows, headlight as well as side-view mirror housing, trunk lids, hoods, grilles and wheel covers.

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of the materials in an average car today are plastics

8.9 m t

of plastic are used in the automotive sector


 less energy consumption thanks to the use of plastics in cars

Usages of Plastics in Transportation 


The voulume of plastics used in today's cars exeeds that of steel, as plastics can be used for a myriad of components. At the end of a vehicle's working life, plastics components can be recycled or the energy can be recovered through incineration.

Plastics versatility aids the automotive industry to meet ever more stringent requirements in terms of economical performance, safety, comfort and environmental considerations. Plastics also play a key role in providing cost effective buses and trucks for transporting people and goods efficiently.


​Materials used in railway locomotives, carriages and other rolling stock have to withstand wear and tear from heavy use. The durability of plastics is one of the factors making them the first choice for engine and carriage panels, flooring, luggage racks, seating and doors.


The aerodynamic requirements of aerospace products demand maximum design flexibility and minimal weight. Plastics can be formulated to meet a wide variety of specifications and are ideal for components incorporating smooth curves. Composites are widely used in the panels of military jets and helicopters as well as for wing skins, nacelles, fairings, flaps and helicopter rotor-blades in commercial applications. Plastics are also found throughout aircraft interiors, for example in bulkheads, galleys, stair units, seating and flooring.

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