Heartland Presenting Hemp Fiber At The Detroit Auto Show 2022
American Automotive Innovation
The Detroit Automotive Show is finally back after a few-year hiatus. The Big 3 American OEMs and their suppliers were out to show the world the innovations they’ve been working on for years.
The show was a testament to how strong and resilient the American automotive industry has become.
Joe Biden On Sustainability
On the first day of the event, Wednesday, September 14th, Joe Biden attended the Detroit auto show.
There were two huge things that the White House was managing on this day:
- The announcement of a $900M investment to support 500,000 EV charging stations over 35 states.
- Biomanufacturing day at the white house.
There is no doubt that Joe Biden is advancing America’s interest in green energy and green materials.
We now need to turn to our business leaders to step up to the plate and invest in sustainability-focused innovations.
Yesterday’s Innovations Are Today’s Commodities
10 years ago, electric vehicles were the newest and coolest cars to hit the market. Now, they are the standard.
Every automotive OEM now has premium electric vehicles with reasonable ranges.
There is a 5-star standard in today’s vehicles that is unmistakable. Today, the interior of every vehicle looks like a spaceship.
So, the question is, how do automotive OEMs differentiate themselves?
The Transition From Green Energy To Green Materials
Since electric vehicles have been standardized, the American automotive market has looked for what’s next. Leaders in automotive have made advancements in sensors, displays, comfort, and connectivity, but they are lacking in one key area: materials.
The raw materials used in automobiles have been standardized for decades.
Plastic, metal, foam, rubber, and glass are all used regularly in each vehicle.
Additives like talc, calcium carbonate, and glass fiber are regularly used additives that increase performance and reduce the cost of base materials.
So why have no new materials entered into the Automotive supply chain?
4 Bottlenecks for New Materials in Automotive
New materials require rigorous testing to enter into vehicles. The characterization process can take months, and component part testing can take years.
The testing process for automotive applications is stricter than in most other industries. It can be quite difficult to create stakeholder alignment during the testing process at these large companies. This means that product development happens in silos until it’s ready for showtime.
As new materials are tested, product consistency is top of mind. With mined and synthetic materials, pound 1 and pound 100,000,000 looks the exact same.
This means that new materials entering into high-performance applications like automotive need to be dialed in. This means the size, moisture content, and aspect ratio of the material need to be precise.
There is no point in testing new materials if there isn’t a reliable supply chain. Billions of pounds of material need to be able to be produced, or else there’s no point in transitioning to new materials.
The automotive industry has suffered from supply chain shortages in semiconductors over the past few years. They are not looking to replicate their supply chain problems with raw materials. This means that new material suppliers need to go in with their eyes wide open.
The price points for raw materials and component parts are very dialed in. Each partner in the supply chain is making their few percent. This means that new materials have to come in at the right price point, or else they price themselves out of the market.
New materials that are at or below the commodity pricing of the materials they replace have a better chance of winning long-term in Automotive manufacturing.
Why Heartland Won The Detroit Autoshow
Automotive OEMs have been struggling with new material development for decades. This has prevented the industry from letting go of materials that they’ve been reliant on simply because they’ve been specced into old formulations.
This means that for OEMs and their suppliers, sustainable material innovation needs to be simple.
Sustainable Material Innovation In Under 30 Days
At the show, Heartland had sample hemp-filled plastic component parts from an Automotive OEM.
We showed the world how sustainable material innovation could be done more efficiently than ever before.
Here’s a timeline of the events:
- On Monday, August 29th, we met with the OEM’s tier 1 supplier.
- On Friday, September 9th, we dropped off hemp-filled plastic at the OEM’s tier 2 injection molder
- On Monday, September 12th, we injection molded the hemp-filled plastic component parts.
- On Wednesday, September 14th, we were displaying the component parts at the Detroit auto show.
The hemp-filled plastic component parts left innovation leaders at the Detroit Autoshow awestruck. The fact that the sample component parts were ready for testing in weeks was a breakthrough that OEMs weren’t familiar with.
The Big Day: Thursday, September 15th, 2022
We had constant foot traffic from OEMs and their suppliers on the last day of the show. The leaders who had had a chance to see the component parts on Wednesday had started bringing other team members by to show them what was possible.
Later in the day, the Lieutenant Governor of Michigan (Garlin Gilchrist) stopped by our booth. He is leading a large plastic recycling initiative here in the stage of Michigan, so he was excited when he heard that Heartland supports the plastic industry with carbon-negative additives.
The After Glow
This was our first expo booth, ever. The Heartland team had two successful days connecting with Automotive OEMs and their suppliers. These connections have already turned into in-person meetings, site visits, and sample materials.
Events like this are helping to show the world how sustainable material and product innovations are ready to make a positive impact on our planet.
Join us in making a world out of hemp.