Celebrating its 100th anniversary on May 25, Japan’s Asahi Kasei set its sights firmly on the future with the unveiling of a next-generation concept car, AKXY2 (pronounced “ax-ee”). The vehicle reimagines how values for sustainability, satisfaction, and society will influence the needs of future mobility on the road to automation and electrification in a changing society.
Aside from advances in legislation, evolving demands from customers are causing OEMs to tear down existing processes in favor of safer, more comfortable, and more sustainable vehicles, convincing diverse end users they are answering these demands, commented 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 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,” said Rother.
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. Virtually everything that can be seen or touched in the vehicle is either manufactured or co-developed by Asahi Kasei. The car features materials and solutions that touch the senses, improve safety, and ensure the highest functionality while reducing its environmental impact. The concept of the vehicle is driven by the ”3 S” theme: Sustainability, Satisfaction, and Society.
AKXY2 is more sustainable
From textiles to elastomers, Asahi Kasei materials that can contribute to a lower carbon footprint are integrated into the vehicle. The interior surfaces are covered with Dinamica, a microfiber suede partially made of recycled polyester. Sage Automotive Interiors can also provide other sustainable fabrics utilizing raw materials that range from recycled and bio-based PET to natural blends and ocean waste. The vehicle seats are cushioned by Cubit, a 3D-mesh material made of PET and partially bio-based PTT.
AKXY2 is driving satisfaction
The needs of car occupants are evolving. One of AKXY2’s major themes revolves around the senses — from the futuristic look and touch of the textiles to the soundproof atmosphere of the cabin. 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 sensor monitors CO₂ levels in the cabin to maintain optimal air quality while reducing energy usage. 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.
AKXY2 is for society
One of the core concepts of AKXY2 considers the role cars will play in a changing society. The car will become more than just a means of transportation — it will be a place to socialize with friends and family, much like the patio of a home.
Image courtesy of Asahi Kasei
|The interior of the AKXY2 concept car envisions a space for socializing, much like a home patio.|
Through collaboration with European and American sites of group company Sage Automotive Interiors, a line-up of automotive interior fabric is showcased, enabling higher customization of the interior compared with the first AKXY. As for utilization 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 solution and the heated seats are achieved in collaboration with UltraSense Systems Inc., a company in which Asahi Kasei Corporate Venture Capital has invested.
AKXY2 can be experienced at trade shows around the world in the coming months: the Detroit Auto Show in September; K 2022 in Düsseldorf, Germany, in October; and CES 2023 in Las Vegas in January 2023.