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Plastics have become an integral part of automotive design and manufacturing over the last several decades. They are used extensively in both the interior and exterior of vehicles. Different types of automotive plastics are used in various applications in the industry.

Here is a look at some of the most common plastics used in automobiles.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is a durable plastic that is used in many applications. Its resistance feature makes it ideal for parts that are exposed to weather or chemicals. PVC applications include:

  • Exterior parts: Headlight, bumpers, weather strips, and fenders
  • Interior parts: Dashboards, door panels, and upholstery
  • Under the hood: wiring (cable insulation), coatings, and fuel lines

The use of PVC in automobiles has several benefits. It can be easily molded into complex shapes, is lightweight, and is a cost-effective material.

Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene is another durable plastic that is used extensively in automobiles. It has a high melting point, making it ideal for parts exposed to high temperatures. PP is resistant to most chemicals, therefore it is used for fuel tanks and other fluid containers. Many automotive plastics are made from recycled polypropylene.

You will frequently find this plastic in car bumpers, interior flooring in carpet fibers, and gas cans. It’s an ideal economical alternative to expensive plastics with similar durability and strength.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

ABS is a strong, heat-resistant plastic that is commonly used in automobiles. It is often used for parts that need a sleek appearance and high durability, such as dashboards and wheel covers. ABS is also used in automotive lighting.

ABS is used in automotive body parts and heavy-duty applications in most instances. This plastic is most preferred as it effectively helps the vehicle body absorb and redistribute energy during instances of impact.


Polycarbonate is a clear, shatter-resistant plastic frequently used in automotive applications. It is often used for headlight covers, tail light lenses, and other automotive lighting. The material is also used in instrument panels and gauge covers.

This kind of plastic is preferable due to its high-level resistance to weathering. Polycarbonate is lightweight, thus reducing the vehicle’s overall weight and increasing efficiency.

Advantages of Using Automotive Plastics

Over the last few decades, use of plastics in the construction of automobiles has increased. High-performance plastics in the automobile industry play significant roles. Today, plastics are the second most commonly found materials in the car, making up 50 percent of vehicle’s volume. Most fuel-efficient vehicles are made with lightweight plastics.

Here are reasons why automotive manufacturers use plastics in their vehicles.

They Are Lightweight

Plastics are often used in automotive applications because they are lighter than other materials such as metal. Vehicles made with plastic reduce strain on the engine. This results in a reduction in fuel consumption.

They Keep Passengers Safe

When vehicles were first built, manufacturers assumed metal would be the best material to use. Metal, however, does not absorb vibration as well as plastic does.

Plastics can help keep passengers safe in the event of a collision. They absorb the energy during an impact and then redistribute it, helping to reduce the force felt by passengers.

They Offer Design Flexibility

Plastics offer automotive designers more freedom to create new shapes and designs. A designer can easily mold them into complex shapes, making this material ideal for automotive applications. Car manufacturers work each year to produce new designs. Plastic makes it easy for designers to be creative.

They Are Durable

Automotive plastics are designed to withstand exposure to the elements and high temperatures, making them ideal for vehicles that go off-road. They are also resistant to most chemicals. Polypropylene is one of the most chemical-resistant types of plastics.

They Are Cost-Effective

Plastics are often more cost-effective than other materials such as metal. This is due to the fact that they are lighter and require less energy to produce. Plastic is also easy to produce quickly, meaning it is easier for manufacturers to build more cars faster. This saves buyers money.

They Have Lower Manufacturing Costs

The utilization of plastics has contributed significantly to reducing car assembly costs and time. For instance, the polyethylene high-density fuel tank is inert inside and outside corrosive environs. The tank is developed with versatile safety features without soldered seams, thus lowering the cost of manufacturing.

They Can Be Recycled

Plastics in the automobile industry are often made from recycled materials. Recycling plastics reduces the amount of waste produced by the automobile industry.

Both the exterior and interior of automobiles use plastics extensively. The kind of plastic used varies depending on the application. Automotive plastics offer many advantages, such as being lightweight, durable, and cost-effective. For more insights about automotive plastics, check out different manufacturers and choose the most reputable company.


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