Why eco-cars don’t have to be green

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Cars are increasingly under the spotlight as designers work to improve performance efficiency to protect the environment.  But did you realize that the way your car is manufactured has become less harmful to your environment too? BASF has been working with car manufacturers to create new products and processes that minimize air pollution and use less energy, whilst still giving your car the protection and great looks you expect.

Historically, the paintwork on your car actually consisted of four layers of solvent-based coatings. The addition of each layer contributed to making the coating process one of the most energy-intensive processes in car manufacturing.  Furthermore, the solvents in the coatings emitted volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs react in the atmosphere and cause polluting particles, such as PM2.5, that harm our health and damage plants and crops.

BASF scientists recognized the potential to transform the coatings process. In 2012 they introduced water-based coatings and a new process, both of which are better for people and the planet.

The water-based coatings contain minimal solvents. Less solvents means less harmful pollutants in your local environment. It also reduces the potential hazards for the workers in the paint shop.

By combining the functions of the primer and basecoat layers, BASF scientists reduced the number of layers from four to three, whilst still maintaining great color and protection. This means a host of benefits: using less raw materials, reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 20%, and cutting the use of solvents.  Car manufacturers are able to reduce costs whilst being kinder to the planet.

In 2005, BASF was the first company to introduce water-based automotive coatings to China. The success has been clear. When BMW Brilliance introduced the new system at their Tiexi factory in 2015, they realized that their energy and water consumption, VOC emission and wastewater discharge were just one third of what they had been 10 years earlier. Each saving was a major breakthrough in sustainable development.

Governments are recognizing the role of water-based coatings in addressing some pressing environmental issues, including in the world’s largest car production market, China. In 2012, China made water-based coatings mandatory for new cars. In 2015, the Beijing municipal government issued world’s strictest local VOC emission standard for industrial painting. And in 2018, China’s Blue Sky 2020 initiative extended these air pollution targets to 338 cities.

BASF continues to introduce innovations for automotive coatings, such as  faster application and drying times, which further enhance energy efficiency.

“BASF is committed to driving sustainability in the automotive refinish market,” said Chris Titmarsh, Vice President, Regional Business Management, Automotive Refinish Coatings Solutions Asia Pacific, BASF. “With our extensive experience in water-based products and processes, we can offer unparalleled quality and consistency, while also helping Asian companies to reduce their VOC emissions and meet their own sustainability goals and country-level ambitions, like China’s Blue Sky 2020 initiative.”