March, for me, is the month of the automotive. The Geneva Motor Show, JEC World and the VDI conference „Plastics in Automotive Engineering“ – lots of news from the industry– I can’t wait.

Over recent weeks and months I’ve been collecting press releases on „automotives & mobility“, where the headlines have caught my eye.   

Recycling for example!
■ This is what our cars are made of (found in the online platforms of publications such as Focus, Spiegel and Handelsblatt among others)

■ Opel out of bottles: The small runabout, Opel/Vauxhall ADAM, is produced at the company’s Eisenach plant in Germany, and, as the country is a diligent collector of used cans and bottles, there is always plenty of material for building the new bumpers.  This is because the bottle caps are made into plastics granulate which are used for the bumper mounts and headlight housing.  The Opel ADAM contains 170 recycled plastic components in total.

■ BMW made with reeds: Sustainability played a central role in the BMW i3.  Half the aluminium used in the car, according to BMW, is secondary or „green“ aluminium (there are some informative studies on this, which clearly show that every steel car that has travelled under 160,000 km, has a noticeably better CO2 footprint – just google it). In addition, the seat upholstery is made of PET recyclate.  Reed grass is used for the door linings and dash panels. 80 percent of all plastic parts in the i3 are made of recycled material – sadly this doesn’t really help me … I still don’t like it.

■ VW Golf: Hemp and East German Steel on board – Cannabis (hemp) is used for the interior lining of the Golf 7… totally legally – some would prefer to smoke it, but please don’t get any funny ideas!
A really traditional form of recycling was used for the Golf 6 some years ago. After the „Palast der Republik“ (also known as Erich’s lamp store) was demolished, the steel from this giant building was recycled and used in the engine mount of the Golf 6 amongst other things.

■ My Ford was a pair of Jeans: In 2011 the Focus car used the remnants of jeans manufacture for door coverings and interior linings. The trousers served as a source of cotton.
■ And Chevrolet proved that this also works in reverse – During the production of new vehicles and recycling of insulation materials, there is always left over waste. General Motors named it “Sonozorb“ and had the material processed for use as linings in sleeping bags, which were then given to Detroit’s homeless.

I also discovered something about the future!
I am a big fan of Elon Musk – although he strongly polarises opinion. He might be a visionary, fantasist or even a wacko. But the Tesla is – visually too – a successful example of electric mobility and a first prototype of the Hyperloop.  Judged by the experts to be unachievable just 2 years ago, it will be running on a 1.6 km long test track this summer. The goal is to transport super-busy Californians from San Francisco to Los Angeles at record speed. Instead of six hours driving, the journey will take 30 minutes in a capsule inside a high speed pipe – at up to 1220 km per hour.  A team from the elite MIT University was one of the successful competition winners around the building of the prototype in January this year. Also successful was the “WARR Hyperloop” team from the technical university in Munich.

According to Musk, the cost will be around 6 to 7.5 billion Dollars, with the biggest part of the spend going on building the track: Two pipes on stilts that will run parallel. The capsules should move through the pipes using their own electrical drives, with the necessary energy produced from solar cells.

And for well-to-do business men & women in Austria, Airbus wants to build an “Air-Bus” for 19 passengers:

„ To Work Via Heli “

Is this really “Eco-Innovative“?
(Who comes up with such names - gonna google this too!)

Birgit Harreither