EV auto maker Nio says that its ET7 EV will be the first production car to feature new, natural technical material karuun, an eco-friendly alternative to plastics.
Developed in Germany by startup Out for Space, karuun is made from sustainable rattan. Available as either a structural block, veneer or 3D form, it is a lighter (on average 400kg/m3) alternative to plastic with a significantly lower CO2 footprint than PC, ABS or even hardwood alternatives found in premium and luxury automotive interiors.
Rattan grows like a vine and is harvested by hand by local farmers. Since originally being spotted in an Indonesian craft market, the material and production process has been refined by Out of Space to enable it to withstand the rigors of automotive use. The result is a patented, attractive, hardwearing but sustainable medium, ideally suited to premium vehicles.
Nio first experimented with karuun in its EVE concept car, where the company felt it complemented the vision of a second living space. In the ET7, each piece of the material used possesses a unique grain. Prominent design elements utilizing the material include the middle layer of the dash and front doors. It also features in the rear of the cabin, providing a continuous and cohesive feel throughout.
“Interesting to both look at and touch, karuun is a progressive and beautiful material from a fast growing and sustainable source,” said Kris Tomasson, VP of design at Nio.
“As an all-electric brand, NIO is conscious of the importance of sustainability and preservation. We are committed to migrating more of our materials and technologies to sustainable alternatives while preserving the premium feel our users appreciate.”