How Cars Are Made Essay

692 Words3 Pages
More than a century ago, Henry Ford made a pragmatic — yet arguably visionary — decision by ditching car body panels made of wood for ones made out of sheet metal. The move increased the speed of automobile construction exponentially, and eventually led to the mass-produced car. However, metal wasn’t the only material in Ford’s arsenal of experimentation. Ford was actually dabbling with more exotic, less factory-friendly construction materials, such as a soy-based plastic exterior that could survive the mighty swing of an ax blade. He ultimately abandoned such plant-based materials because they were too expensive. But as a new generation of carmakers and materials researchers attempts to wring more efficiency from (and lessen the environmental impact of) the modern motor vehicle, less conventional building materials are gaining new attention. From design-oriented projects made of bamboo and glass to Toyota’s 1/x concept, whose bioplastic exterior contains seaweed, decades of research into novel materials seem on the verge of paying off. The question is, when will these starch-infused, shape-changing marvels hit the road, and will they be cheap enough for mere mortals to afford, or will they be another novelty for the billionaire whose Lamborghini has lost its luster? Here are some of the more promising materials automakers are experimenting with: Corn, Seaweed & Soybeans: Bioplastics Plastic doesn’t grow on trees — not yet, at least. Most of it, which is used in everything from water bottles to SUV dashboards, is petroleum-based. For automakers hoping to reduce their carbon footprint — whether to boost their environmental image, or to head off regulations that would penalize carbon emissions, or a combination of both — the benefits of plant-based plastics are obvious. For example, the production of bioplastic films derived from cornstarch churns

More about How Cars Are Made Essay

Open Document