More sustainable materials for Volkswagen ID family

Volkswagen’s ID. Family is becoming more circular as the German car maker transfers some of its ecological materials used in the ID. Buzz. The latter was the most sustainable of the electric family and will now serve as a technology donor.

The additional recycling materials will be introduced on ID.3, ID.4, ID.5, and ID.7, but it is not communicated when this will occur. For the ID.3, scheduled for an update in the summer of this year, the facelift seems a good starting point. But model year updates, which align with the retooling of factories, can also be a suitable timing. Volkswagen says the uptake will follow a step-by-step strategy.

PET bottles

Several materials were pioneered in the ID. Buzz when it hit the European market during the fall of last year. Volkswagen mentioned that 63 500 ml PET bottles are processed for use in the interior components. Some of these bottles have been recuperated at waste stations; others are recuperated from the oceans.

Also, the seat covers in the electric van use alternative materials. The outer fabric is made from Seaqual yarn. This contains 10% of upcycled marine plastics and 90% of post-consumer plastic waste. It is made by a Spanish company working together with ocean clean-ups. It mimics the physical properties of polyester, and Volkswagen claims that it saves 32% of CO2 emissions compared to conventional fabric.

No more chrome

Speaking of polyester, the headliner and floor coverings in the ID. Buzz are made from a 100% recycled variant, while the insulation in the carpets uses upcycled plastics. This is also the case for the underbody cladding and the wheelhouse liners.

Volkswagen has also found a substitute for chrome which is a chemistry-intensive material during production, not unharmful for both the environment and human beings. In its interior application, as for the steering wheel, doors, or instrument panel, a liquid paint with a bio-based binder provides a shiny chrome look.

Silke Bagschik, Head of Product Line E-Mobility, summarizes the alternative material strategy: “Through the widespread use of recycled materials and the animal-leather-free interior in our ID. models, we are further improving the eco-balance of our vehicles – with high demands on haptic and long-term quality. The feedback from our customers confirms that we will continue to expand these sustainable approaches in the future.”

Carmakers and their targets

Plastics are the most used material in cars, after metal, predominantly in the interior. They are mostly made from composites which are complex to recycle when the vehicle has reached the end of use. The European Commission is working on a fixed set of rules for recycled plastics, but the automotive sector fears that this could lead to price hikes as the supplier industry around recycled plastics is still in an early phase.

Toyota claims it already uses 20% recycled plastics in current production, Volvo targets 25% from 2025, BMW says it will reach 40% by 2030, while Stellantis eyes a minimum target of 35% (depending on the vehicles). Apart from battery recycling, Volkswagen hasn’t committed to a target.


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