Asahi Kasei has celebrated its 100th anniversary with the release of a new concept car, AKXY2 (pronounced ‘ax-ee’), which is claimed to reimagine how values for sustainability, satisfaction and society will influence the needs of future mobility on the road to automation and electrification.
“Aside from advancements in legislation, evolving demands from customers are causing OEMs to tear down existing processes in favor of safer, more comfortable and more sustainable vehicles, answering the needs of diverse end users,” commented Heiko Rother, GM 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 choose a different brand from 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.”
From textiles to elastomers, materials that can contribute to a lower carbon footprint are integrated into the vehicle. The interior surfaces are covered by Dinamica, a premium microfiber suede partially made of recycled polyester. The vehicle seats are cushioned by Cubit, a 3D mesh material made of PET and partially bio-based PTT. The S-SBR tires, made from bio-based butadiene, offer low rolling resistance to improve fuel and energy efficiency and reduce the generation of microplastics.
According to the company, one of AKXY2’s major themes revolves around ‘the senses’, from the smell of the cabin and the feel of the textiles to the soundproof atmosphere and futuristic looks. To address evolving safety needs beyond crashes, elements from Asahi Kasei’s Healthy Car Portfolio are implemented, including antimicrobial fabrics to protect the automotive interior from the spread of pathogens. Furthermore, a sensor monitors CO2 levels in the cabin to maintain optimal air quality while reducing energy usage and monitoring the cabin for children or pets left behind. In addition, semi-transparent and backlit fabrics, as well as plastic optical fibers, allow for customized 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 startups to create new concepts, such as smart fabrics,” added 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.”