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"We need engineers!"

This is the message that Dr. Rudolf Stauber of BMW gave to students from 8 schools across Europe during a live online chat on 30th November. Students from Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovenia talked to Dr. Stauber and each other about how future car designs will help protect the environment and how the plastics and car industries are collaborating closely to help make this happen. The chat was part of the “Energy is our Future” project created by PlasticsEurope and European Schoolnet to help raise awareness among students of energy and environmental issues.

Dr. Stauber, Vice President of “Operating Strength and Materials” within the BMW Group, took the test drive: he was the first to host a chat on the new futurenergia website ( The students and their teachers were itching to get answers to their questions, and for 60 minutes he chatted to them about subjects including hydrogen cars, future engine types, and the contribution of plastics to innovative car design.

Plastics are integral to the clean technologies of the future. The BMW Hydrogen 7, the world’s first series-produced consumer car powered by hydrogen, uses carbon-reinforced plastic (CRP) to make the frame of the car stiffer, stronger and more crash-resistant. The lightweight properties of plastics mean that this additional safety comes without a need for more fuel to power the car.

Similarly, hybrid engines make use of plastics to make them as light as possible and help maximise their efficiency. Hybrid cars also rely on the qualities of plastics to keep them lightweight, strong, and aerodynamic.

However plastics also play a vital role in improving the environmental performance of today’s conventional cars. High-performance plastics are being used in an ever-increasing range of applications in cars, in particular for active parts in the engine. This includes for ignition modules, air manifolds, oil screens, fuel connectors, pistons, pumps, driveshafts, valves and bearings.

Dr. Stauber finished the chat with a call for the students to get involved in the car industry of the future. “We look forward to getting the best-educated students for the car development of tomorrow!”

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Chat transcript (PDF file; 40 KB)


Car design: Saving energy, helping the climate

More about this chat activity