Emilie Grimm, CMF Designerin Color & Trim im Hyundai Center Europe. Foto: Peter Grett

Eco-materials and fabrics: Emilie Grimm CMF designer at Hyundai in conversation

In the eMove360° interview, Emilie Grimm, CMF Designer Color & Trim at the Hyundai Design Center Europe, explains what the individual eco-materials and fabrics are all about. CMF stands for the area of product design that deals with the selection and use of colors, materials and surfaces.

It is certainly no trivial matter to track down environmentally optimized alternatives to conventional materials in automotive engineering in a continuous process that can be used without compromising on functionality and comfort. Who at Hyundai is responsible for researching materials, tests and potential sources of supply?

Emilie Grimm: All material research and the development of new materials is carried out in close cooperation between Hyundai Engineering, Color and Trim and the testing department. To this end, we work closely with our colleagues from the Hyundai Color Team in Korea and with our suppliers. Due to the high demands placed on the materials in the car, it is a challenge to find sustainable alternatives to the materials conventionally used in cars. A particularly high level of development is necessary here in order to get the materials into the vehicle later in series production and to meet the required specifications.

How are sustainable materials assessed at Hyundai? According to which criteria are materials considered sustainable at Hyundai?

Grimm: As climate change and global warming are associated with excessive CO2 emissions, our primary goal is to reduce CO2. With the Ecomaterials we use, we can save a lot of CO2 compared to conventional materials. For example, we use 45% recycled PET for the seat materials, which means we save 32.3% CO2 compared to conventional PET. I think that’s a huge amount. On the other hand, we use bio-based materials made from renewable raw materials, which we can use as a substitute for petroleum-based materials, such as the headlining fabric made from bio PET, which I will discuss in more detail later. Hyundai is constantly testing new and promising materials. However, we need to make sure that the materials not only fulfill ecological requirements, but are also reliable and durable. As you know, we give our customers a 5-year guarantee and want to ensure the expected quality.

In the press information on the IONIQ 6, there is a lot of talk about “organic” and “ecological” when it comes to the materials used. But what is behind terms such as “ecologically treated leather” or bio-PET fabric, which is used in the headliner?

Grimm: Exactly. In leather processing, for example, a bio-based linseed oil is used in the tanning process, replacing a chemical substance and making the leather more environmentally friendly. The bio-PET fabric is obtained from biomass from sugar cane production – of course just waste. This biomass is then converted into a PET polymer, which in turn is spun into yarn and then woven into the textile. To come back to the question of “organic”, it refers to the biological origin of the material we use.

What does it mean that pigment paint from old tires is used for paneling and pigment paint from bamboo charcoal is used for the bodywork?

Grimm: Since old car tires can hardly be recycled or not at all, extracting pigments from the tires is one way to “upcycle” the waste product. To extract the pigment, the old tires are mechanically shredded. The pigment can then be used for the color of the side molding and the bumper.

Bamboo charcoal, as a fast-growing and bio-based raw material, can also be used as a pigment for the exterior paint. In the IONIQ 6, bamboo charcoal is used in the Digital Green Pearl paint.

Organic paint is used for the door panels. The term “organic” is apparently derived from its composition of plant oils, i.e. natural base materials. Can you explain in more detail which oils these are, because palm oil, for example, is hardly deserving of the name “organic”?

Grimm: Plant-based oils from rapeseed and corn are used for the paint on the doors, from which polyol is made, which is contained in the polyurethane paint. This means we can also replace petroleum-based raw materials with oils from renewable raw materials.

The dashboard of the IONIQ 6 is made of a bio-rubber mixture. Is the bio-rubber sourced from eco-certified plantations and how does it differ from conventional rubber?

Grimm: Well, that’s not quite the correct description. We use a bio-TPO material for the dashboard, which is a thermoplastic elastomer and not rubber. Sugar cane waste is also used for this, which is converted into bioethanol and polyethylene, which is what the bio-TPO skin, as we call it, is made of. And compared to conventional PE (polyethylene), CO2 emissions per vehicle are reduced by 1.15 kg.

In which areas do you see promising options in the selection and use of eco-materials in the future, or in other words, what challenges and visions still lie ahead of you?

Grimm: I think the use of renewable raw materials in particular will become increasingly important in the future. It is not just that many bio-based materials such as wood can bind CO2, but other materials such as wool already have very good properties in themselves, such as the absorption of moisture, which is beneficial for the seat covers in the vehicle. In addition, the issue of regionality also plays an important role in trying to keep supply chains as local as possible – for example, all suppliers for production in Europe are located within Europe. And all of these issues are considered from the point of view of recyclability, so that we also use materials that can flow back into the production process at the end of the life cycle.

Basically, we can say that in the future more and more bio-based and circular materials will be implemented in Hyundai cars on the way to CO2 neutrality.

The interview was conducted by Peter Grett, Touremo. You can read about it in the current eMove360° magazine in german language. There you can also read what sustainability means at Hyundai.

10.07.2024   |  

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