The new Audi A3 is on the way, and the Four Rings' latest teaser touts that the model's upholstery and carpet use recycled plastic bottles. Each car repurposes the equivalent amount of material that would go into over 100 bottles. The company promises that the resulting fabric has the same quality as a traditional textile.
Audi will offer the recycled upholstery in a variety of colors. There's Torsion steel gray with yellow contrasting stitching and Puls two-tone black and silver with Rock Gray stitching. Later, the company intends to add a choice that's black and red.
Gallery: Audi A3 Interior Teaser
The latest spy shots (below) show the next-gen A3 with practically no camouflage, and the design doesn't change too much. There are narrower headlights and a broader grille. At the back, the D-pillar has a steeper angle, which creates a sleeker silhouette for the hatchback.
Gallery: Audi A3 Revealing Spy Photos
The debut for the A3 is very soon, and rumors put the date at March 3. This means the new model would be on display at the Geneva Motor Show. Look for sales in Europe to start before the end of the year. It's not clear when the company would introduce the model to the United States.
There will still be a sedan variant of the A3. It's not clear whether it would debut at the same time as the hatchback or if the automaker intends to stagger the unveilings. We suspect the latter.
Audi is hardly alone in finding a use for recycled plastic bottles in its vehicles. For example, Ford has been doing this for over two decades, starting with the Mondeo, and has gotten to the point where the company can recycle 1.2 billion bottles a year.
From bottle to fabric: Seat upholstery made of PET
New Audi A3 with sustainable interior concept
Up to 45 PET bottles with a capacity of 1.5 liters used per seating system
Many additional components made from secondary raw materials
Ingolstadt, February 25, 2020 – The fashion industry produces jewelry, clothes and bags from PET bottles. In addition, more and more furniture is being made from waste material such as paper shreds, plastic bottles and wood chippings. Audi is now offering seat upholstery made from recycled material for the new A3 for the first time.
Sustainability is a central pillar in the Audi corporate strategy. This applies to technology as well as to the production processes. Seat upholstery made from secondary raw materials are being used for the first time in the fourth generation of the Audi A3. Up to 89% of the textile used consists of recycled PET bottles, which are transformed into yarn in an elaborate procedure. This results in fabrics that guarantee the same quality standards in terms of look and feel as conventional textile upholstery.
Turning the old into the new
The bottle disappears in the hole of the reverse vending machine, and the customer in Germany gets €0.25. But what happens then? While still in the shop, the disposable bottles are compressed for truck transport in order to save space. Once they have arrived at the recycling plant, they are sorted by color, size and quality. Foreign matter such as the caps are separated. A mill then crushes the bottles into flakes, which are washed, dried and melted down. Nozzles shape continuous plastic strands out of the mass. Once they have dried, a machine chops them into small pieces. This results in granulate, otherwise known as recyclate, and this undergoes extrusion to create threads. Wound onto coils, these are used in the final stage to manufacture materials.
The equipment, data and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.
More than 100 PET bottles in a single A3
All in all, up to 45 PET bottles with a capacity of 1.5 liters are used per seating system. On top of this, an additional 62 PET bottles were recycled for the carpet in the new Audi A3. Other components in the interior are also increasingly made of secondary raw materials, e.g. insulating materials and absorbers, the side panel trims of the luggage compartment, the loading floor and the mats. The goal is clear: The percentage of recycled material in the Audi fleet is to rise considerably in the coming years. In the process, the premium brand will continue to offer its customers products with the high level of quality that they are used to.
At present, the seat upholstery is not yet made completely of recyclable material. “The lower layer of woven material, which is connected to the upper material with adhesive, is what poses the challenge. We are working on replacing this with recyclable polyester,” says Ute Grönheim, who is in charge of material development in the textiles division at Audi. “It is our goal to make the seat upholstery completely from unmixed material so that it can be recycled again. We are no longer very far away from this.” In the long term, all seat upholstery across all model series will be made of recycled material.
Three recycled covers on offer
There are three different material designs for the Audi A3; they have an up to 89% share of recycled material. One of these is the steel gray material “Torsion” for the design selection on which yellow contrasting stitching creates visual highlights. In addition, the material “Puls” is available. In the S line, it features the black and silver color combination and is accentuated by rock gray contrasting stitching. Later on, it follows in black and red with contrasting stitching. In the equipment line in question, these designs form the basic offering and can be combined with side bolsters made of artificial leather.
A video showing the production process of PET fabric will be available at Audi MediaTV soon. – End –