Suppliers of technical textiles and related materials to the global automotive industry can expect major disruption in the coming years, according to a report in the latest issue of Technical Textile Markets from the global business information company Textiles Intelligence.
Such disruption will be due to two significant developments: recent initiatives which could result in the end of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines and their replacement with hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs); and advances in autonomous or self-drive vehicles
There is likely to be a significant increase in the number of EVs manufactured globally in the coming years as vehicle manufacturers ramp up production in accordance with commitments they have made, and in response to various multinational initiatives and government bans on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. Multinational initiatives include the Clean Energy Ministerial’s (CEM’s) EV 30@30 campaign, which aims to increase the deployment of EVs so that they account for at least 30% of all new vehicles sold by 2030.
For many companies which supply textiles to the automotive industry, the move to EVs will be a positive development. One consequence will be an increase in the importance of the aesthetics of a vehicle’s interior as software starts to take over many of the functions previously performed by the driver.
There will also be strong growth in demand for nonwoven components which are employed as separators in batteries and in fuel cells for electric vehicles, and for materials which reduce noise and maintain thermal comfort.
On the downside, however, there will be a significant fall in the use of many of the advanced hybrid filter media materials which have been developed specifically in recent years to deal with engine emissions. Eventually, the need for such materials will be eliminated.
The introduction of self-drive vehicles will bring another set of challenges and opportunities. For example, the pioneers of such vehicles envisage the rise of self-driving fleets and the eventual elimination of car ownership. If this vision comes to fruition, there will be a requirement for interior fabrics which are more hard wearing and more durable, and have easy-clean and antimicrobial properties. In addition, interiors will have to be refurbished much more frequently than cars which have only a single owner, have limited numbers of passengers, and are parked on streets and in garages for extended periods of time.