Hiroshima, Japan: Mazda Motor Corporation has announced that, in conjunction with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, it has developed a new bio-based engineering plastic that can be used for exterior design parts for automobiles.

The new plastic will help Mazda to reduce its impact on the environment in a number of important ways.

As the plastic is made from plant-derived materials, its adoption will help to curb the use of petroleum resources and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, the material can be dyed and emissions of volatile organic compounds associated with the painting process reduced.

Dyed parts made from the bio-based engineering plastic feature a finish of higher-quality than can be achieved with traditional painted plastic. The deep hue and smooth, mirror-like finish of the surface make the newly-developed plastic suitable for external vehicle parts with a high design factor.

Mazda will display prototype “Mazda Biotech material” parts made from the bio-based engineering plastic at Eco-Products 2014.

One of Japan’s largest exhibitions of environmental technologies and environmentally-friendly products and services, Eco Products 2014 is a three day event staged at Tokyo Big Sight starting today.

Mazda has been proactively developing technologies in the biomass field for a number of years.

To date, under the “Mazda Biotech material” name, the company has succeeded in developing the automotive industry’s first high-strength heat-resistant plant-derived bioplastic for auto interior parts, and the world’s first biofabric for vehicle seat upholstery made entirely from plant-derived fibre.

However, to be suitable for exterior parts, plastics are required to possess not only a high quality finish, but also excellent weather, scratch and impact resistance in order to stand up to harsh environmental factors to which they are exposed. Achieving this combination of characteristics with bioplastics has posed a technical challenge.

Now, Mazda has succeeded in making a material suitable for both interior and exterior parts. This has been achieved by optimising the composition of a newly developed, highly mouldable and durable bioplastic base material with additives and colouring agents (patent pending), and optimising moulding specifications.

This will enable the company to produce parts that are as durable as conventional painted ABS plastic parts yet feature a higher quality finish.

This bio-based engineering plastic will make its debut on interior parts for All-New Mazda MX-5 which will be launched globally in 2015. Moving forward, it will be used for exterior parts in other production models.

Mazda will continue to proactively develop unique technologies to help achieve a sustainable society with the aim of developing products that provide both driving pleasure and outstanding environmental and safety performance.