Sustainability

Audi utilizes recycled PET bottles for interior of new A3

The journey from plastic bottle to seating material ends with the plastic incorporated in to the Audi A3.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

As buyers become more eco-conscious, they're switching buying behaviors, opting for up-cycled and recycled materials more and more. Many industries are latching onto the trend and designing products out of recycled cloth, PET bottles, and rubber. Ford has been one of the leaders in this movement, showing off its tomato-infused trunk and soy-filled seats half a decade ago.

Now, Audi is getting in on the game and signaling that the innovation is part of the company's larger corporate strategy of sustainability.

2020 Audi A3 sedan Audi hopes to include recycled material in all its seats soon.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Seat upholstery in the fourth-generation Audi A3 is made from secondary raw materials. Up to 89 percent of the textile used consists of recycled PET bottles.

According to Audi, here's how the process works:

The bottle disappears in the hole of the reverse vending machine, and the customer in Germany gets €0.25. But what happens then? While still in the shop, the disposable bottles are compressed for truck transport in order to save space. Once they have arrived at the recycling plant, they are sorted by color, size and quality. Foreign matter such as the caps are separated. A mill then crushes the bottles into flakes, which are washed, dried and melted down. Nozzles shape continuous plastic strands out of the mass. Once they have dried, a machine chops them into small pieces. This results in granulate, otherwise known as recyclate, and this undergoes extrusion to create threads. Wound onto coils, these are used in the final stage to manufacture materials.

The material from up to 45 PET bottles ends up in as part of a seating system. Additionally, 62 PET bottles per vehicle are recycled and used for the A3's carpeting.

Why is just 89 percent of the seat made up of recycled material? "The lower layer of woven material, which is connected to the upper material with adhesive, is what poses the challenge. We are working on replacing this with recyclable polyester," says Ute Grönheim, who is in charge of material development in the textiles division at Audi. "It is our goal to make the seat upholstery completely from unmixed material so that it can be recycled again. We are no longer very far away from this."

Audi is using secondary raw materials in other parts of the vehicle as well including the side panel trims of the luggage compartment, the loading floor, and the mats. The company has set the goal of making all seat upholstery material, across all model series, from recycled material.

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The new Tiguan sports an all-new front-end design.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Tiguan is an interesting compact SUV with a fun-to-drive personality and plenty of style. After 14 years on sale, the Tiguan is just in its second generation, but VW has given it a significant update for the 2022 model year that brings new tech, updated styling, and a refreshed interior.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The rear has been massaged with new badging and standard LED taillights. Volkswagen

The restyled Tiguan is available in four trim levels: S, SE, and SE R-Line Black. All models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive can be optioned in.

Styling updates are the big story for the 2022 Tiguan. The front end is entirely new and carries design cues from the larger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. LED headlights are now standard, and an illuminated light line is available for the SUV's grille. On the rear liftgate, the Tiguan model name lettering also mirrors that of the Atlas, with the name spelled out underneath the VW logo.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Most trims get an 8-inch touchscreen.Volkswagen

Inside, the Tiguan now comes standard with heated seats, while a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats are available. Cloth upholstery is standard, while mid-range trims get leatherette. The top SEL R-Line comes with leather and a perforated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Front-wheel drive models come standard with three rows of seating as well, making the Tiguan one of the more family-friendly vehicles in its class.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The top trim gets upscale leather upholstery.Volkswagen

The base Tiguan S comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen running Volkswagen's excellent MIB 2 software, but all others get MIB 3 infotainment software running on a glass-covered 8.0-inch touchscreen. The automaker notes that it's a capacitive touch system, which functions more like a smartphone than other infotainment systems, which sometimes require pressure to register a touch input. All Tiguans get a digital gauge cluster with an 8-inch display, while the top SEL R-Line upgrades to a 10.25-inch configurable gauge cluster that offers full-screen navigation and other views.

Pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $25,995 for the base S trim with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the prices to $27,495. All Tiguan models will see a $1,195 destination charge tacked on at the bottom line.

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Both the Jetta and Jetta GLI are refreshed for 2022.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen is busy in 2021. The automaker has a brand-new SUV in its lineup and is implementing tech updates for almost all of its vehicles. The venerable Jetta sedan is one of them, but along with new tech, the car receives a new engine and updated safety features for the 2022 model year.


2022 Volkswagen Jetta The Jetta GLI gets standard projector LED headlights.Volkswagen


The 2022 Jetta gets the new turbo-four that powers VW's freshman SUV, Taos. It's a 1.5-liter unit that makes 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. The Jetta GLI is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is available.

Both cars are based on VW's MQB platform, but the GLI gets additional go-fast chassis and handling components. Like its spiritual cousin, the Golf GTI, the Jetta GLI carries a VAQ electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip differential. That extremely hyphenated component works with the car's XDS Cross Differential System and DCC adaptive dampers to help keep things tidy when the driver puts their right foot down.


2022 Volkswagen Jetta The Jetta comes standard with a digital gauge cluster.Volkswagen


Styling updates include new front and rear bumpers with a new grille and chrome trim pieces. The GLI features a signature red accent strip and a honeycomb lower fascia. The standard Jetta gets LED headlights and daytime running lights, while top Jetta trims and the Jetta GLI get projector LEDs.

New standard tech headlines the cars' interior updates and include a standard digital gauge cluster, measuring eight inches for the Jetta and ten inches for the Jetta GLI. The Digital Cockpit system can display maps, audio information, and other data from the car's infotainment system. Top Jetta trims and the Jetta GLI also come with VW's MIB3 infotainment software, which brings wireless charging and wireless app connectivity.


2022 Volkswagen Jetta New safety tech is available for the 2022 Jetta.Volkswagen


The Jetta's standard and available safety technologies also get an overhaul for 2022. Front assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts are now standard, while Volkswagen's IQ.DRIVE safety package is available for some cars and is standard for the GLI. The package includes a lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a semi-automated driving assistance system, and a semi-automated medical emergency vehicle assistance system.

Pricing details for the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta have not yet been released. The automaker expects the cars to begin arriving on dealers' lots in the fourth quarter of 2021.

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