Through a collaborative project with the Technical University of Liberec, Škoda Auto’s Technical Development department has developed a sustainable raw material that could be used in the interior of future Škoda vehicles.
Produced using sugar beet pulp, the material can be used for door trims or decorative dashboard inlays and is dyed using a special process to produce design accents for the interior. The sustainable material is sourced near to Škoda’s headquarters in Mladá Boleslav in a town called Dobrovice, negating the need for long-distance supply chains and reducing the CO2 footprint.
“We aim to play a pioneering role in the area of sustainability,” explained Johannes Neft, Škoda Auto board member for technical development. “We are taking a holistic approach to this issue, and we are addressing much more than just the CO2 emissions of our vehicle fleet; we are also focusing on researching and using ecologically sourced materials and investigating, for example, how materials such as coconut fibers or rice husks can be used in the future.”
Škoda is already researching other sustainable and ecological materials such as one based on the reed plant miscanthus. The fibers from the reed can be processed and subsequently turned into a material that is also suitable for application to interior panels.
The vehicle manufacturer claims the organic residues from production make excellent ecological raw materials as these can be processed further without the need for additional resources. As a direct result, this reduces the requirement for industrially produced raw materials.
For research and development purposes the materials and processes are then applied and trialled in a Škoda Octavia demonstrator vehicle that has the floor and right-side panel removed. This provides designers and engineers with an unobstructed view of the car’s interior to see how certain materials look or feel – and to see if they are suitable for use in a series production model. Door panels and pillars within the Octavia are also finished with miscanthus-based fabric, and sugar beet shavings have been utilized for the door panels and dashboard.
Škoda has also applied sustainable processes to other interiors across its vehicle portfolio. For example, 30% of the seat covers in the design selection for the Škoda Enyaq iV are made using 100% new wool, certified in accordance with the Woolmark Company, while the other 70% is made using polyester from recycled PET bottles.