What Materials Should Be Used In The Cars Of The Future?

Illustration for article titled What Materials Should Be Used In The Cars Of The Future?

What's the next carbon fiber?

Automakers are an incredibly unadventurous bunch. In addition to copying everything anyone else does, they generally like to stick to what they know and avoid going out on a limb. However, they've advanced slowly in material usage over recent years. We've seen more carbon fiber and aluminum usage, inspired by racing programs. Nissan trying to make skin for your next car, which maybe is taking things a bit too far.

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What materials — either for function or style — do you think we'll see in the cars of the future?

(QOTD is your chance to address the day's most pressing automotive questions and to experience the opinions of the insightful insiders, practicing pundits, and gleeful gearheads that make up the Jalopnik commentariat. If you've got a suggestion for a good Question of the Day, send an email to tips at jalopnik dot com.)

Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz

DISCUSSION

geistkoenig
Patrick Frawley

Personally I'd love to see a return to simple, high-quality materials - steel, leather, strong fabrics, heavy durable plastic - in intelligent layouts and straightforward forms.

One of the charming things about a lot of beloved older cars is that they are so basic, but those basic parts are solid and functional. In the same way that a lot of modern design emphasizes natural or traditional materials and essential parts (kitchens in stainless steel and plain wood, clean architecture with natural details, simple steel-framed bicycles), an interior can provide significant function while not getting carried away on an overstyling trip that will look ridiculous in fifteen years. Touchscreens can actually help with this if they're integrated well. But that classic sense of solidity and tactile quality and pleasing aesthetics is the important part. Bauhaus ideas are still hugely relevant.

Some of the retro cars do this very well. The Mini is close; so is VW's not-for-us Up!. Nissan's old Pike cars were great this way. (The Miata has never been complex, thankfully, although they can probably refine it a bit further.)

Swooping fountains of cheap plastic get very tired. Make it simple, solid, clean, and usable, and it'll be a welcome revolt against the current excesses.