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Teijin Introduces Concept Car Made From Lightweight Materials

Teijin’s PU_PA concept.

Japanese textile producer Teijin Ltd. unveiled a lightweight concept car, the PU_PA, made from materials including carbon fiber and bioplastic as part of an effort to promote its products that could reduce automotive weight.

The firm plans to advocate the use of advanced materials, telling automakers that a 1-tonne small car can be lightened to 500kg in five years, a move that will greatly improve fuel efficiency, according to a report on the announcement by the Nikkei. Teijin will also promote materials that have a smaller environmental impact to produce, such as bioplastic and fiber made from polylactic acid.

We aim to halve the weight of automobiles.

—Yoshinaga Karasawa, Executive Vice President

Teijin materials in the PU_PA include a carbon-fiber backbone; a roof and exterior window of polycarbonate resin; heat-resistant bioplastic (BIOFRONT); an artificial leather dashboard; a polyester film for the plated front grille; and tire cord fabric.

Teijin introduced the BIOFRONT bioplastic, which it developed with Mazda, in September. The plastic will be used initially for the manufacture of a high-quality, highly durable car-seat fabric made of 100% BIOFRONT fibers, and was featured in the new Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid vehicle that Mazda premiered at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show 2007. (Earlier post.)

The melting point of BIOFRONT fibers is 210ºC, significantly higher than the 170ºC melting point of polylactide fibers. As a result, BIOFRONT readily accepts high-temperature, high-pressure polyester dyeing. Such improvements have brought BIOFRONT to the same level of performance of PET (polyethylene terephthalate), according to Teijin.


this type of thinking can have a substantially larger impact that any other measure to reduce transportation based CO2 emissions. it is about time all car makers embraced the concept of light weight=increased efficiency. comine this with other initiative to implrove ICE efficeincy and you can have a huge reduction in CO2 from transport while still using fossil fuels. Add BEV concepts and, well, the world will hold hands and have a coke.

as for the safewty aspect, it is well proven that carob fiber absorbs more enrgy ni an impact. light weight cars can be as safe or safer than stamped steel small cars.


This is one case, where the arguments against improving SUV fuel efficiency should be disregarded. If all SUVs could reduce their weight even 20% using materials (5000lb -> 4000lb) that saves lives as well as energy! Plus SUVs have the pricing and margins to use more expensive materials. I'd rather see an SUV with a 10% improvement in fuel economy through light weight materials than adding weight for a 25% improvement in fuel economy using hybrid technology.

Gerald Shields

True. Don't matter what engine you've got, if the overall weight is lighter, then the fuel efficiency is high. The only problem is that the materials must be either stronger or just as strong.


One safety issue I haven't seen addressed is GRIP. The lighter the vehicle, the more you have to use aerodynamics to generate downforce to improve grip.



Lighter doesn't mean less grip at all, especially on wet road. A heavy car is more likely to slip on a curb taken too fast than a light vehicle, that's basic physic, same thing when it comes to braking. Lighter means shorter breaking distance. I can tell than in europe we had in the 70s a citroen 2CV weigthing 500Kgs, and the favorite games of crazy drivers was to try to push it to its limit since this car has the reputation to never lose its grip.


Don't forget bamboo fiber. Grow it, turn it into car parts, then turn it into paper and use it again, then mulch it or pyrolize it.

Or how about you split the trunk into blades, make a crude low-efficiency wind turbine out of it, and when the blades break then you turn it into parts.


...and don't forget hemp! Very strong fibers.

Or if you just smoke it, you will forget that you wanted to drive somewhere and thereby save energy. ^_^


This strategy, coupled with a low drag coefficient, is what should be implemented across the auto industry to produce much more fuel efficient vehicles.

The Aptera is a perfect model of this, although I honestly don't expect major car companies to take it that far (even though it can be argued that Aptera didn't take it far enough).


Many people might want to know about crash safety in lighter vehicles. Steel was used because it was cheap and strong. Steel for cars has become more expensive and the higher profit margin cars are good candidates for using lighter materials that cost more.


Well, I agree with Amory Lovins and his Hypercar Concept. You can make it lighter and still be strong enough to provide adequate protection for the passengers. In fact, Hyperforge was started to show that you can mass produce carbon fiber parts for cars that are strong and lightweight. It's just difficult to get the auto industry to adopt the new methods.

John Holden

We are very interested in an application which could use the Teijin lightweight materials described in your feature article.

Could please put us in touch at an executive level?

Tim Thomas

We are a company that is totally dedicated to bioplastic technology. We are a certified Leed corporation involved with sustainable practices. Can you please get us in touch with this company.

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