Press Release

CAR Releases Report on Bio-Based Materials

ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 22, 2012– There is significant potential for the expansion of bio-based automotive parts and components manufacturing in the Great Lakes region, according to a newly-released study conducted by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), a nonprofit research organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.   

“Bio-based materials, such as corn- and castor oil-based plastics, natural fiber reinforcements, and soy-based foam, have already been tested and deployed in a number of automotive components—door interiors, seating, package shelves, and underbody panels, for example.” said Bernard Swiecki, senior project manager and the study’s lead.  “Although still in its infancy, the use of bio-based materials by the automotive industry has been gradually accelerating over the last several years. Many companies in the Great Lakes region are examining the use of bio-based materials in their automotive parts and components. The region is the nucleus for automotive component research and manufacturing and provides a major source of the feedstock crops used to produce bio-based materials.”

The study, produced by the Sustainability and Economic Development Strategies group at CAR, examines the bio-based automotive parts and components market and identifies several successful approaches to increase commercialization of bio-based materials in automotive components. This report includes an examination of the status of current bio-based materials technology and use within the automotive industry, emerging industry trends toward deployment of bio-based materials, leading organizations that are active in the automotive bio-based materials sector, and feedstock and resource base considerations associated with production of bio-based materials.

Drawing on meetings with industry representatives, case studies, and a literature review, CAR researchers documented lessons learned, obstacles encountered, and strategies to increase commercialization and adoption of bio-based materials into automotive supply chains. The report highlights the commercialization process through three case studies. These case study examples of successful automaker bio-based product utilization provide a basis for understanding how a component that integrates bio-based materials is developed and how these materials move from farm to factory.

The report was funded by Growth Dimensions for Belvidere and Boone County Inc. and is available on CAR’s website,

The Center for Automotive Research’s mission is to conduct research on significant issues related to the future direction of the global automotive industry, as well as organize and conduct forums of value to the automotive community.  CAR performs numerous studies for federal, state and local governments, corporations, and foundations. The Sustainability and Economic Development Strategies group offers objective analysis and advice while encouraging collaboration between the automotive sector, academia, and communities, with the goal of long-term sustainability of both the industry and communitiies.

CAR Research Study


Lisa Hart
Center for Automotive Research
(734) 929-0465



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