Since 2013, Mazda Motor Corporation and Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation have been developing a series of new materials for interior and exterior automotive applications. Now, the biopolymer-based Durabio, a biodegradable polycarbonate made from plants, is being used to make large exterior parts.
Take the 2017 Mazda compact crossover CX-5 as an example, Japanese carmakers apply the Durabio to the front and center of the car's front grille.
A Mazda team spokesman in Hiroshima, Japan, said Durabio demonstrated "superior chemical resistance" compared to traditional petrochemical-based plastics, enabling front-end plastic parts to withstand the wear of road debris.
In a press release, Mitsubishi Chemical said it has "outstanding performance" in terms of impact resistance, heat resistance and weatherability compared to other bioplastics.
The company said Durabio's hard surface and scratch resistance eliminate the need for any coating process and reduce VOC emissions during the production phase.
Mazda spokesman said on January 10: "From a surface finish point of view, we have actually exceeded our goals and achieved a higher quality than the traditional spray pieces."
The spokesman said that most of the Mazda models have already started using this material. This material was first applied to the interior parts of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata and the exterior parts of the Mazda CX-9 mid-size crossover.
Durabio is also used in a wide variety of interior parts, from gearbox covers and interior cup holders to console-side trim panels; as well as other exterior parts such as C-pillar finishes and other applications.
In addition, in 2016, French carmaker Renault used Durabio material in its Clio model's speedometer-tachometer housing. In 2013, Japanese car maker Suzuki Motors also partnered with Mitsubishi to develop Durabio. The company's Suzuki Hustler car interior color panel uses this bioplastic. Later, Suzuki 2015 Alto Lapin models interior color panel also used Durabio material.