ACC Report: Chemistry and Plastics in Automobiles Continue to Rise

May 15, 2024
Electric vehicles have up to 85% more chemistry than fuel-powered vehicles, says the American Chemistry Council.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) released a report, “Chemistry and Automobiles,” which found that the use of chemistry and plastic products continues to rise in vehicles. Electric vehicles (EVs), in particular, are driving increased demand for these products in the auto sector, as a mid-size EV contains approximately 45% more plastic than a similarly sized fuel-powered vehicle.

The report found that compared to a decade ago, the average value of chemistry in a vehicle had increased by 31%. The amount of plastic and polymer composites is up more than 18% from a decade ago and accounts for approximately 10% of a vehicle’s weight yet 50% of its volume. This has helped drive fuel efficiency by reducing the weight of vehicles.

Plastics and the products of chemistry in vehicles do more than just improve fuel efficiency and range — they also support vehicle safety. In addition to seatbelts and airbags, which depend on plastics and chemistry, fiber-reinforced polymer composites can absorb four times the crush energy of steel while foams and polymer composites also help provide impact protection. Additionally, advanced driver assistance systems, such as automated emergency braking, rely on plastics for the multitude of cameras and sensors that enable such safety innovations. 

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