As we mentioned on the previous page, interior panels can be made of many different types of materials, and each one is chosen for a different purpose. Over the past several decades, the interior car panel has received much more attention, as engineers focused on reducing the weight of vehicles to increase fuel efficiency. In addition to weight reduction, consumer demand for more luxurious interiors has also influenced the types of panels found in vehicles [Source: Weber].
The interior panels may be composed of a single piece of molded plastic, or several pieces of plastic. As other areas of automotive manufacturing have evolved, interior panels have from being made from pieces of metal, to thin pieces of cardboard, to molded plastics, fiberglass and wood. [Source: Partstrain]. Most modern interior car panels consist of molded plastic pieces with areas for storage and electronic features, such as power windows and door locks, integrated into the panel. Other functions and luxury features may also be housed inside the door panel.
As the price of cars goes up, the materials used for the interior panel also changes to accommodate the style and price of the vehicle. One manufacturer said that in recent years, consumers that purchase a $20,000 vehicle expect an interior that looks like a $30,000 vehicle [Source: Weber]. Wood is a popular type of interior panel that can be found in luxury vehicles -- although the entire panel is not typically constructed entirely of wood, it consists of sections of wood, as well as leather and other high-end fabrics and plastic.
In addition to luxury interior panels and plastic panels made for design and function, the auto manufacturing industry has increased production of interior panels that are more environmentally friendly. As the demand for vehicles with a low environmental impact has increased, interior car panels are being built with more recyclable materials [Source: Weber]. Some countries in Europe require auto manufacturers to build vehicles that are 85 percent recyclable, including elements of the interior door panels, and U,S. manufacturers are increasingly becoming more environmentally conscious with their materials as well [Source: Weber].
Let's go on to the next page to find out what types of technology are being used in interior car panel installation and how it's changing.