Honda showcases vision for more sustainable product design

Honda investigates the use of sustainable materials in order to reduce CO2 emissions

Honda showcased its evolving approach to a more sustainable product design with the European premiere of its latest electrified urban vehicle concepts, the Sustaina-C Concept and Pocket Concept motorcycle

These two concepts were shown alongside the SH125i Vetro scooter to demonstrate how the innovative use of materials and unique design aesthetics can be created while reducing C02 emissions arising from the manufacturing process. This is one way in which Honda is pursuing its target of achieving carbon neutrality across all products and corporate activities by 2050.

The Sustaina-C Concept explores how society could be freed from the constraints of finite resources. It comes paired with a Pocket Concept, a compact motorcycle that can be stored in the luggage compartment and provide last mile mobility.

The panels are manufactured using recycled acrylic resin sourced from second-hand taillights to create exterior panels that do not require painting, allowing Honda to create a unique, unpainted finish that would not be possible with traditional materials. This material approach could reduce emissions during production by up to 45 percent, partly via the recycled materials in use, but also by leaving the panels unpainted, which can account for as much as 80 percent of the CO2 emissions from a vehicle manufacturing facility.

The model which was shown at Milan design week features a black and white marble effect, achieved by mixing colours with different melting points into the panels as they are moulded, leaving a marbling behind as the material settles into the mould.

Alongside their eye-catching appearance, the vehicle panels are also crack resistant and able to return to their original shape following light impacts. They also offer a high level of weather resistance with minimal degradation from sunlight.

At the rear, the acrylic resin’s excellent transparency has allowed for the Sustaina-C concept’s tailgate to be formed out of a single panel that acts like a smartphone screen. The mini-LED display has been designed to communicate with other road users via simple text or imagery, thereby offering a potential new dimension with regards to the exterior design of future vehicles.

The acrylic resin being used demonstrates a possible approach to future resource circulation. Developed in partnership with Mitsubishi Chemical, second-hand taillights are sourced from end-of-life vehicles, they are crushed and treated, before being moulded into the panels required for the Sustaina-C Concept. This is one way Honda is looking to reduce resource extraction and part of its exploration into more energy efficient, low-carbon, cost-effective advanced recycling technologies and the creation of a vehicle-to-vehicle circular value chain.

Honda are already implementing ways of reducing CO2 generated by manufacturing as demonstrated by models such as the Vetro version of its immensely popular SH125i scooter. The Vetro, Italian for glass, is a special edition model that features distinctive semi-transparent unpainted green fairing panels. The processes around the use of these panels at the Atessa factory reduce CO2 emissions by 9,5 percent compared with the manufacturing process of standard painted fairings. The new material is a substitute for the ABS plastic used for non-structural parts and components, helping to form a sleek, unified body style and premium presence.

Honda’s reduction of CO2 emissions via innovative material use is just one step towards  the company’s global target of achieving carbon neutrality across all its products and corporate activities by 2050. Central to this pursuit is Honda’s Triple Action to Zero initiative, which covers carbon neutrality, clean energy and resource circulation, the latter of which will see it aim to establish vehicle-to-vehicle resource circulation and the application of 100 percent sustainable materials.