Aside from carbon fiber and magnesium becoming increasingly common, new shock-absorbing materials are either in development or already being used in applications outside the automotive world. Case in point: d3o. The orange gel is comprised of "intelligent molecules" that can sense an impact within milliseconds and then harden to divert the energy. When a sudden force isn't applied, the gel is as pliable as Silly Putty.
According to the Sunday Times, Mazda is already looking into using the material in future vehicles, which would go a long way towards helping to reach the automaker's goal of reducing vehicle weight by 15% in the next five years. Check out the video below for a demonstration of the superputty in action and read the rest of the Sunday Times' predictions here.