Mitsubishi Motors, in cooperation with Toray Industries, Inc., has developed a high-durability car floor mat using a combination of the plant-based resin polylactic acid (PLA) and nylon fibers.
The company announced the development of its first plant-based resin auto product in February 2006—an interior trim material made from polybutylene succinate (PBS) and bamboo fiber. (Earlier post.) The new floor mat is the second in the company’s independently developed “Green Plastic” plant-based resin auto product line and is due to debut in a Mitsubishi Motors model later this year, ahead of the PBS/bamboo fiber interior trim.
PLA is a plant-based resin that, in principle, will not add to atmospheric CO2. It is made using lactic acid produced through the fermentation of sugar extracted from sugar cane or corn and will be used in the carpet pile facing on floor mats. Mitsubishi Motors has enhanced the material’s durability, previously a concern for PLA, by adding a reforming agent and nylon fibers to increase resistance to light and wear.
Toray had announced in March its plans to launch full-scale commercialization of polylactic acid (PLA) films and sheets.
Testing of the prototype PLA/nylon fiber floor mat confirms that it achieves a 40% reduction in lifecycle CO2 emissions over similar floor mats currently used in Mitsubishi vehicles, according to the company.
Testing of the prototype also confirms a reduction in volatile organic compounds (VOC) of more than 50% over current floor mats. This comes as a result of steps including the elimination of adhesives from the process of binding the pile facing to the mat backing.
Mitsubishi Motors says that as part of its efforts to stop global warming and slow the depletion of global oil reserves it will continue its independent development of plant-based Green Plastic resins to replace the petroleum-based resins currently used in car interiors.