If you’re aren’t a fan of cars made with plastics and composite materials then the future isn’t looking too rosy because the next-generation of vehicles are going to feature lots more of the lightweight stuff and in places you wouldn’t normally expect to find it. Carmakers are desperate to improve the fuel-efficiency of their vehicles while at the same time lower production costs and one of the easiest ways to do this is to manufacture more parts out of plastic.

A recent study has found that carmakers can reduce the weight of components by about 40 to 50% by switching from metal to composite construction. Some of the key components that could be replaced with plastic alternatives include car panels, packaging and binding material for lithium ion batteries plus hoses and tanks for fuel.

Chrysler is one carmaker in talks with a number of strategic suppliers about developing new parts for its future range of electric and advanced hybrid vehicles. Those suppliers include battery makers as well as groups that can guide Chrysler on composite body structures to cut weight, one official revealed to Automotive News. Other new materials carmakers are investigating include soy-based urethane foams, which can be used for vehicle interiors. GM is another carmakers seriously considering making materials like carbon-fiber mainstream.

America’s new CAFE regulations is making the biggest impact in the industry and will eventually force all carmakers to change the design of their cars. Carmakers must look at every option in their search to boost mileage and one of the cheapest and most cost effective methods is proving to be using more plastic.