Polymers & Plastics in Automotive & Recreational Vehicles

An offroad sports utility vehicle in action. Exponent engineers evaluate materials and mechanical systems in ROVs.

Improving Polymer & Plastic Performance

Plastics, rubbers, and other polymers are used in vehicle construction for their durability, structural strength, temperature, and impact resistance, and play a critical role in functionality, safety, and visual appeal. When auto manufacturers need assistance with design assessments and validation, vendor, and factory evaluations, or risk and failure analysis of polymer materials, they turn to Exponent.

How does Exponent help automotive manufacturers safely advance polymers and plastics technologies used in their vehicle manufacturing processes?

Today's consumers are enthusiastic about pushing the bounds of next-gen automotive and recreational technology  — but automotive innovators must balance performance with consumer safety, environmental impact, and regulatory compliance. 

Many components within automobiles are made from plastics, and 70% of those plastics are made from polypropylene, polyurethane, and PVC. Polymers are used for numerous exterior, interior, and under-the-hood applications — from door handles, upholstery, and dashboards to fuel systems, air conditioning, and automotive thermal management. These high-performing polymers are heavily regulated in the automotive industry and require careful polymer science and materials engineering considerations throughout the entire product lifecycle.  

Exponent's multidisciplinary teams have deep expertise in materials; organic and inorganic chemistry; macromolecular, surface and polymer science; and a variety of products and manufacturing systems as well as vehicle engineering, industrial hygiene, and biomechanics and human factors.  

For more than fifty years, our teams have led the consulting industry in performing failure analyses of all types of products and materials. We apply this knowledge to solve future challenges  — including issues of intellectual property, warranties, and product recall.

We assist automotive industry manufacturers in pre- and post-market activities, including: 

  • Materials recommendation and selection. 

  • Materials development, qualification, standardization. 

  • Verification and validation of plastics and other materials used in automotive production. 

  • Failure and root cause analysis arising from pre- and post-development incidents. 

  • Warranty, product recall, and litigations support. 

    Capabilities and Services

    Our Capabilities Are Unparalleled

    With expertise in over 90 disciplines and hundreds of capabilities, tools, and methodologies — we get to the root of even the most complex challenges and give you the objective answers you need.