Plastic is never going to feel as good quality as a metal alternative but it’s likely to weigh a lot less and be cheaper and faster to produce and paint.
Used on cheaper cars for external body panels like the bumpers, wings and sills.
While you might be able to bend the panels with a stiff prod, plastic makes sense as body panel material as it’s light, resilient to impacts and easily replaced if damaged.
Steel is strong, easy to work with, cheap and readily available and almost every car will have some steel in it.
Used for parts like the roof, chassis, wheels, brakes, exhaust and engine.
It doesn’t take extremely specialised tools or knowledge to produce, manufacture and repair steel.
Aluminium is the other common metal used in car manufacture.
It’s much lighter and stronger than steel and, unlike its ferrous friend, isn’t susceptible to rust.
It is more expensive and a lot harder to work with than steel so isn’t commonly used on cheaper cars.
With advanced metals on the one side and carbon fibre on the other, fibreglass has fallen out of popularity in the motoring world.
The same as carbon fibre is made by embedding small strands of glass in a mat then setting it in plastic.
The combination of glass’ resilience and plastic’s flexibility means fibreglass is very lightweight, fairly strong and resistant to bending.
The fashionable material of choice for the automotive elite.
Carbon is used in various ways around a car but the most common is as carbon fibre.
Like fibreglass, its small strands of carbon embedded into a fibrous mat and sealed by a plastic or resin.
Leather upholstery is a desirable option on many a higher-spec car.
Prepared from the hide of an animal (usually cows) and its resilience to abrasion and staining means it works well as an interior material.