With all the hype over hybrid and electric cars, it's easy to forget that the materials used to make a vehicle matter just as much as the engine inside. Mazda, at least, hasn't forgotten—the company's new Aqua-tech Paint System supposedly reduces volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 57% compared to its already eco-friendly Three Layer Wet Paint System. As a result, the system has the smallest environmental footprint of any water-based paint system used today—including those used by Ford and Toyota.
Water-based paints usually are more carbon-intensive than solvent-based paints, but Mazda's Aqua-tech keeps CO2 emissions low by using quality paint shop air-conditioning, an evaporation system to remove water from paint, and top coat paints that consolidate the coating process by providing many of the same functions of primer, such as resistance to chipping and minor scratches.
The Aqua-tech system, part of Mazda's "sustainable Zoom-Zoom" company plan, is already being used at the Ujina Plant No. 1 in Hiroshima, Japan. Presumably, the system will expand to other plants in the near future.