Just about every automaker uses recyclable materials in their cars today. From bumpers, interior bits, and even wiring harnesses, manufacturers are finding ways to build cars greener. Audi, on the other hand, has brought that up to the next level.
Instead of using fabrics and textiles for their seats, the German automaker will be making seat trims out of recycled plastic bottles. It will first be used in the next-generation A3 with other models eventually following suit. So how do they do it?
Over in Germany (and other parts of the globe), there are disposal bins for these sort of plastic bottles. These are then sent to recycling centers to find a second life. This is where Audi steps in. The bottles are sorted by color, size, and quality while other foreign matter such as the caps are separated. Once it's all sorted, a mill then crushes the bottles into flakes, which are washed, dried and melted down.
To turn it into fabric, nozzles shape continuous plastic strands out of the mass. Once they have dried, a machine chops them into small pieces. This results in granulate, otherwise known as recyclate, and this undergoes extrusion to create threads. Wound onto coils, these are used in the final stage to manufacture materials, in this case, the seat trim for the A3.
Audi says that, in the all-new A3, over 100 PET bottles were used to form the seat fabrics, carpets, and other trimmings. They add that up to 89% of the textile used in the A3 consists of recycled PET bottles. There are even three color combinations to choose from, namely gray, black with silver combination, and black with red combination.
So when you see a next-gen A3 with fabric seats, just think of the all the plastic bottles that made their way to the car. Instead of just letting it pile up in landfills, Audi's solution is one way to lessen our carbon footprint in the planet.