More and more motorists could soon be driving cars with parts made from plant fibres, as the materials become cheaper, according to Ford.
The company says the sustainable fibres, which can improve fuel economy by cutting the weight of vehicles, are likely to be able to compete with conventional materials on cost within a decade.
Ford already uses renewable materials including hemp, wood fibres and kenaf for door trim inserts, with flax fibres accounting for up to 50% of the content of door inserts in its latest B-MAX model.
Traditional materials still dominate the market but the cost of sustainable ones is falling, Maria Magnani, a research engineer working on advanced materials for Ford Europe, told BusinessGreen.
She said: "We are competing with materials that are not expensive and that have been optimised for 40, 50 years. And now we are starting this small production so we do not have the volume or scale.
"When that comes we expect it to be cost competitive... I'm quite confident we will get there - sooner than 10 years."
Copyright Press Association 2012