• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Eco-friendly cars made with recycled materials

Carmakers are creating new vehicles that are green with recycled materials and using renewable energy in manufacturing.
November 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
When most people think of a car being green, they're thinking of what does ... or doesn't come out of the tailpipe. But it goes beyond that - the way a car is made can make it green too.

"The material for our carbon fiber-reinforced plastics is produced in our plant in Moses Lake, Washington, where the energy that's being used is 100 percent hydro-electric power," said BMW Spokesman Jose Guerrero. "And also the assembly of the car in Leipzig, Germany, that's also being powered by four on-site wind turbines."

BMW's new plug-in electric i3 has been called the greenest car in the world. Green manufacturing and the fact that when the car is eventually taken out of service, it can be recycled.

"Right now we're 95 percent recyclable, so the car itself is very sustainable, and very renewable," said Guerrero.

Particularly the batteries that power the electric motor, sometimes thought of as being an environmental hazard. They can be re-purposed when they're no longer sufficient for vehicle use.

"We look at second-life applications, whether it's solar or wind, we really use those batteries for the next generation of use," said Guerrero. "So when it's done powering your car, it can still power your home, or still be used for wind turbines and so forth."

Obviously, recycling parts of a car at the end of its life is a good environmental move, but another new trend is at the beginning of the car's life, using components that are made from recycled materials.

You might not have known this, but a lot of typical car interior pieces, including seat fabric, are made from petroleum products. Well, Ford's teamed up with Coca-Cola to be able to weave seat fabric from recycled, plant-based plastic beverage bottles.

And the wood in the BMW? It's eco-friendly in the way it's finished.

"There's very minimal processing that's done to the wood," said Guerrero.

The same thing goes for the leather.

"We use olive leaves to actually tan the leather, instead of using formaldehyde or other harmful chemicals," said Guerrero.

So as all cars get greener in how they treat the air around them, some are going to the next level. Keeping tabs on everything about them, from start to finish, that could make an impact on the environment.


Load Comments