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Fibres/​Yarns/​Fabrics

Creating for tomorrow for 100 years

Vehicle demonstrates cross-divisional expertise throughout the entire value chain.

25th May 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Japan

Transport/​Aerospace, Sustainable

Asahi Kasei is celebrating its centenary year with the release of its next generation concept car, the AKXY2, equipped with a range of value-adding technologies that illustrate how the company’s 100 years of collective innovation across the materials industry is contributing to present and future mobility

“In addition to advances in legislation, evolving demands from customers are causing OEMs to tear down existing processes in favour of safer, more comfortable and more sustainable vehicles, answering the needs of diverse end users,” comments Heiko Rother, general manager of automotive business development at Asahi Kasei Europe. “We need to act fast. Our recent survey from November 2021 shows that 50% of car users in the four major automotive markets – the USA, Germany, Japan and China – will next choose a different brand to the one they currently own. The materials used in the car are a key enabler for multiple differentiating factors and user experience beyond drivetrain or driving performance – whether visible or not.”

The AKXY2 concept car demonstrates the cross-divisional expertise of Asahi Kasei throughout the entire value chain, from raw materials and production technologies to the use of recycled and recyclable materials, while addressing the changing regulations and evolving needs of car users.

It’s hard to believe that this all started 100 years ago with basic textiles from synthetic cellulose, like rayon. We’ve come a long way since then

 Virtually everything that can been seen, touched or felt in the vehicle is either manufactured or co-developed by Asahi Kasei.

Surfaces

From textiles to elastomers, Asahi Kasei materials that can contribute to a lower carbon footprint are integrated. The interior surfaces are covered by Dinamica, the premium microfibre suede partially made of recycled polyester, and Sage Automotive Interiors can also provide other sustainable fabrics utilising raw materials that range from recycled PET, bio-based PET, natural blends and ocean waste.

Interior surfaces are covered by Dinamica, the premium microfibre suede.  © Asahi Kasei

The vehicle seats are cushioned by Cubit, a 3D mesh material made of PET and partially bio-based PTT. The S-SBR tyres, made from bio-based butadiene, improve fuel and energy efficiency due to their low rolling resistance while reducing the generation of microplastics.

Through full collaboration with the European and US sites of group company Sage Automotive Interiors, an abundant line-up of automotive interior fabrics is showcased, enabling higher customisation of the interior compared to the first AKXY. As for utilisation of the interior space, concepts for potential synergy with the Homes sector of Asahi Kasei are proposed to enhance collaboration with customers and automotive users. The functions of the door and canopy open/close touch solutions and the heated seats are achieved in collaboration with UltraSense Systems, a company in which Asahi Kasei Corporate Venture Capital has invested.

Driving satisfaction

One of AKXY2’s major themes revolves around the senses – from the smell of the cabin and the touch of the textiles to the sound-proof atmosphere. To address evolving safety needs beyond crashes, elements from Asahi Kasei’s Healthy car portfolio are implemented to protect the automotive interior from the spread of pathogens via antimicrobial fabrics. 

A COâ‚‚ sensor monitors COâ‚‚ levels in the cabin to maintain optimal air quality while reducing energy usage and protecting the cabin from children or pets left behind. In addition, semi-transparent and backlit fabrics and plastic optical fibres allow for customised ambient lighting inside the vehicle, while sustainable textiles and foams equip seats with a new level of comfort.

“One of Asahi Kasei’s greatest strengths is without question the ability to draw from our diverse product portfolio across multiple group companies and collaborate with outside start-ups to create new concepts such as smart fabrics,” says Mike Franchy, director of North American mobility at Asahi Kasei America. “AKXY2 showcases our expertise as a trusted partner to OEMs and Tier-1s for both interior and exterior components and technology. It’s hard to believe that this all started 100 years ago with basic textiles from synthetic cellulose, like rayon. We’ve come a long way since then, and I’m looking forward to seeing these contributions continue to shape the automotive industry.”

www.asahi-kasei.com

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