Updated: Oct 5, 2018
Bumpers in French translate as stop shock; to pare down shock, keep the hit to a minimum, protect from something dangerous that is shocking. All automobiles need bumpers, to be safe from other moving vehicles.
The bumper is part of the car carapace, of course the actual bumper is a steel bar or other rigid material. What I learned reading up on the subject is that a solid bumper would better protect internal parts of the machine but would be more harmful to the passengers in a collision. Thus the plastic armour.
Front and back bumpers are shaped to fit with the rest of this hyper designed industrial product and seem to be the sexiest parts. They finish off the look of the body; they determine how voluptuous or aerodynamic the object seems. Since they are the part first in contact with another of its kind, their condition holds special significance and status; a scratchless and clean one sends a different message than one that is dirty or damaged. When cleaning the car, the bumper is the most satisfying to polish up. And of course, they display the distinguishing trademark belt buckle-size metallic logo.
Like tires, millions of bumpers get thrown yearly because of a serious dent or a dimple. They are part of the planet’s plastic problem.