When you think about plastics you might interact with in a car, your first thought might be immediately to think about those cheap, broken plastics of yesteryear in cheaper economy cars.
What you might not think about, is the variety of materials being used to enhance your experience and keep you and your passengers safer.
With the extremely rare and aggressive mood swing we've seen from mother nature in the North (where sub-zero temps have been non-stop), or in the South or East Coast where massive amounts of snow are bringing infrastructure and daily life to a halt; you might take some of these materials for granted without even thinking about it.
Everyone is looking towards the future for more open, airy, and natural light filled interiors with the popularity boom of glass panel roofs. What you might not think of, is how these materials are being utilized to be functional parts of your car. In many cases, the glass panels on the large panoramic roofs are sealed with polyurethane to provide expansion, contraction, and vibration a means to be minimized while reducing potential for failures. There have been some very interesting developments in how the material is used, and how the finished products are being implemented.
The reduced failure rate, reject, and rework rates help reduce overall cost for the manufacture, which tends to trickle down for the customer. You can learn more about one the processes used here.
Another technology boom we've seen is the increased interest in autonomy and driver assistance technologies. Whether you're thinking about Elon's "auto pilot" push for Tesla, or automatic breaking, collision detection or lane keep assists in so many of today's offerings; one thing is true across the board. These technologies are creating more and more RF interference for many more systems. One way this can be combated is with materials such as PBT that tend to absorb the radar signals. This is ideal to reduce the amount of RF pollution for sensor and help it maintain accuracy wherever possible. Increasing reliability and accuracy of these systems makes them that much more integral to our modern automotive experience, but it may not be something you stop and think about. (unless you read something like this article)
Hopefully this gives you some food for thought the next time you're looking at the difference between those hard, unforgiving plastics adjacent to the soft touch plastics on your dash, door cards and center console.