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Mazda expands bioplastic use to exterior components

by Ben Hsu

Large exterior parts such as grilles can now be formed from plant-based plastic.

Mazda has developed a bioplastic that can be used on large, exterior parts of a car, such as grilles and trim. The technology uses plant-, rather than petroleum-derived material that is said to be more environment-friendly.

Mazda has already been working on bioplastics for automotive use for many years. The first applications were on smaller pieces of interior trim on the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata. Bioplastics have also made appearances in the 2, 3, and CX-9. However, the technology has advanced with improved "formability," to the point where Mazda can create large, complex-shaped exterior pieces that need to weather the elements. In addition, the pieces can exhibit smooth, mirror-like finishes even when unpainted.

In addition to reducing petroleum usage, Mazda says that the process diminishes the production of carbon-dioxide and other volatile chemicals that are the byproducts of traditional plastics.

The first use of these bioplastics will be on the CX-5 grille, but will expand to other vehicles in the future. The technology is currently on display at Ecopro 2017, an environment and energy expo in Tokyo.