Thursday, 18 August 2016

Automotive Interiors: Significant Aspects Influencing Buying Decision

Suppliers and manufacturers focus on offering enhanced overall driving experience by building superior interiors with technological innovation, collaborations, and R&D activities.

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Buying decision of a vehicle is not influenced only by fuel efficiency anymore. It has exceeded the expectations of customers to have a comfortable overall driving experience. So, automakers have to take necessary measures to ensure that they are meeting customer demands and offering the best services at optimal prices. Though it presents challenges to manufacturers, technological advancements and increased focus on R&D activities have enabled them to incorporate changes in design of interiors to provide enhanced experience. Automotive interiors are systems and components designed for providing comfort, sound insulation, and convenience to users. Automakers are developing superior products with an introduction of innovative features that are capable of delivering a better overall experience. In its recent report on the automotive interiors market, Allied Market Research states that the market is expected to garner a revenue of $200 billion by 2022, registering a CAGR of 6.5% from 2016 to 2022. Technological innovation, recent market trends, future scope, and competitive intelligence are outlined in the report.

Axalta and United Paint’s combined expertise to build superior interiors: 

Manufacturers are acquiring other companies to produce better products by combining expertise of both companies. Axalta Coating Systems, a leading liquid and powder coatings supplier, has acquired the automotive interior rigid thermoplastics coatings division of United Paint & Chemical Corporation. Axalta, headquartered at Philadelphia, U.S. offers innovative and sustainable coating solutions. The acquisition of United Paint will help Axalta to improve durability and aesthetic qualities of automotive components. United Paint, a Michigan-based company founded in 1953 is offering coating solutions for vehicle interior applications. 

Steven R. Markevich, Executive Vice President and President of Transportation Coatings and Greater China of Axalta said, “United Paint’s interior rigid thermoplastics coating technology is a great fit for Axalta as we fulfill our commitment to provide our customers in the global vehicle manufacturing industry with a complete range of coating systems.” He added that there is a demand for lighter alternatives for traditional materials, so vehicle interiors are a logical extension of the expertise they have developed to serve the growing automotive plastic components market. Vehicle manufacturers will benefit by relying on Axalta as a single source supplier of coatings for vehicle interiors as well as exterior surfaces. This acquisition will help auto manufacturers to maximize their potential and gain competitive advantage in global market by implementing solutions developed by combined expertise.

The biggest Automotive Interiors Expo to take place next year:

Interior material suppliers and auto manufacturers must be updated about recent trends and developments. In a rapidly changing world and advancements in technology, they will be benefited from the biggest interiors expo set to take place in 2017. Automotive Interiors Expo will take place on 20–22 June in Stuttgart, Germany. Car interiors of manufacturers ranging from Ferrari, Porsche to GM, Toyota, and others will be displayed at the show. Latest developments in the industry such as plastic compounding & master-batching, metalized plastics, and chrome-look plastics will be showcased. In addition, exhibition of wide range of fabrics, shape-forming materials, acoustical materials, adhesive systems, and lighting will help in bringing innovation in products. This show will help suppliers and interior design teams of manufacturers by offering a wide array of products that will help them innovate and fulfill expectations of customers. 

DuPont’s Hydrel RS to improve airbags systems:

Sustainability has become a prime focus of suppliers for developing interior parts. Taking this into consideration, DuPont collaborated with Takata-Petri to develop the thermoplastic elastomer, Hydrel RS produced from renewable materials. The materials used for producing this thermoplastic elastomer are derived from non-food biomass. Hydrel RS, containing at least 35% of renewable content by weight can be used in airbag systems. This product has technical properties that offer consistent physical properties over different temperature ranges. For more than last 15 years, DuPont and Takata-Petri are manufacturing innovative safety systems that can be used in driver and passenger airbags. 

Hydrel RS is based on a thermoplastic ether-ester elastomer (TPC-ET) having hard segments and soft segments. Hard segments contain a polybutylene terephthalate, while soft segments contain a polyether, which is derived from non-food biomass. In its finished, compounded form, Hydrel RS can be as used in airbag systems. The development team at DuPont demonstrated that the performance of Hytrel RS is superior in terms of use of renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions as compared to a petroleum-based TPC-ET.

Less noisy interiors:

Suppliers are implementing various technologies in their products to help manufacturers make interiors less noisy. International Automotive Components, an automotive interiors supplier based in Luxembourg is focusing on production of injection-molded, lightweight inner-dash insulated dashboard that offers superior interior acoustical performance. The company has announced that its Prestice facility in Czech Republic has started production of such dashboards for two manufacturers from Europe. 

The traditional process of production of acoustic parts involve molding of thermoplastic-based heavy layer sheet under vacuum. “This process in itself has limitations,” an IAC spokesperson told WardsAuto. “The thickness of the part is nearly uniform and detailed and precise part geometry is difficult to reproduce.” On the other hand, injection-molded process involves production of parts that are heavier where more insulation is needed and thinner in other areas. “By doing this IAC can optimize the acoustic performance and at the same time reduce the weight of the component,” the spokesperson added. 

The improvement of acoustic properties through molding process offers reliable distribution for designing and production of perfectly fit components for dashboards. So, this material is beneficial for manufacturers as it provides freedom to design the entire dashboard module as per their design considerations. The spokesperson claimed that they are aiming to produce a dashboard that weighs 40% less than conventional dashboards that are formed under vacuum. Furthermore, this insulation technology complements its range of innovative lightweight acoustical insulation products, such as sprayed-polyurethane-dash inner technology. This technology reduces weight by 20% and superior acoustic performance as compared to traditional technologies. Various technologies are emerging that help in reduction of noise from dashboard enabling comfortable and enhanced driving experience.