The majority of components in the Biofore Concept Car that are traditionally made of plastic are replaced by renewable UPM Formi biocomposite and thermoformable UPM Grada wood material. The car is fuelled by wood-based renewable UPM BioVerno diesel.
Juuso Konttinen, UPM’s Vice President of Biochemicals, is happy with the interest generated by the Biofore Concept Car.
"Our materials function very well in the car, and they can introduce an ecological dimension into car manufacturing. If a component is manufactured from biocomposite instead of plastic, the carbon footprint can decrease by 60%. This is a remarkable achievement."
Lightness brings fuel savings
UPM Formi biocomposite is used, for example, in the front mask, side skirts and door panels. Thanks to the lightweight and durable materials, the car weighs 150 kg less than vehicles of a comparable size, which also means reduced fuel consumption.
"With this concept car, we have been able to demonstrate to the automotive industry that the new biocomposite materials are already in production and commercially available. Even though this is a concept car, it could just as well be commercially produced,” Juuso Konttinen says.
An application of the Biofore strategy
Jussi Pesonen, UPM's President and CEO, described the car as an excellent opportunity to showcase the company’s Biofore strategy and the uses of the new materials.
“The Biofore Concept Car combines the development paths of our new products, like biocomposites and biofuels, which linked us to the automotive industry in the first place. This car is an interesting example of how different areas can be combined into one product,” says Pesonen.
UPM’s new materials result from strong investment in R&D and the company’s expertise on pulp utilisation. UPM’s annual R&D expenditure is EUR 80 million, 80% of which is invested in New Businesses.
The Concept Car was born by cooperation
Elisa Nilsson, UPM's Vice President of Brand and Communications, states that bold renewal of the company and the entire forest industry, is at the core of Biofore thinking.
“The car is a fine representative of our transformation – a process that is strongly supported by our different business areas. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the potential of our new and innovative bio-based materials. For example, UPM BioVerno, renewable diesel, has attracted a lot of interest here at the Motor Show.”
The vehicle is a joint production between UPM and Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. Students of industrial design and automotive and mechanical engineering from Metropolia were responsible for designing and building the car from start to finish. A total of around 50 students participated in the four-year project. Several partner companies and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation also participated in the cooperation.
A model of sustainability
Automotive professionals are interested in UPM’s development work. Harald Braun from Mercedes-Benz remarks that building a concept car is a perfect way to take new steps towards sustainable development.
“The industry needs research like this in order to demonstrate how sustainability can be incorporated into car design.
“What is interesting about this development is to investigate how much of the materials from the first cars that are manufactured using biomaterials can be recycled and used in manufacturing of subsequent cars. It is impossible to achieve a 100% recycling rate, but the challenge is to figure out how close to this target we can get”, Braun says.
The Biofore Concept Car was first introduced in the Geneva International Motor Show in March 2014.
UPM materials used in the car and their applications
UPM FORMI Composite material made of pulp and plastic. Up to 50% of the UPM Formi raw materials are renewable.
Use in the car: Front mask, side skirts, dashboard, door panels and interior panels.
UPM GRADA Wood material that can be formed with heat and pressure.
Use in the car: Passenger compartment floor, centre console, display panel cover and door panels.
UPM RAFLATAC The automotive industry uses self-adhesive label materials, for example, on various components, spare parts and windscreens. Safety markings, warnings, serial numbers and type numbers, and use instructions can be printed on the material.
Use in the car: Spare parts, engine bay, interior and exterior finishing etc.
UPM BIOVERNO Wood-based renewable diesel fuel that can be used in all diesel-powered cars. Manufactured from crude tall oil, a residue of pulp production. Significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels.
Use in the car: As fuel.