German tier 1 major Continental will introduce its new range of sustainable solutions for applications in vehicle interiors at the IAA Transportation trade fair.
The company says global climate challenge calls for more sustainable mobility, and its surface solutions have been developed keeping the focus on sustainability and climate protection.
“Our sustainable product design is based on three pillars: carbon neutrality, circular economy and unique product properties as enablers. We’ve already achieved considerable success with our products on this path to sustainable vehicle interiors. In this way, we can now create customer-specific surface solutions that are up to 100 percent climate-neutral,” said Dr. Dirk Leib, Head of the Surface Solutions business area at Continental.
According to the company the path to carbon-neutral products presents challenges in many areas such as raw materials, production processes and energy consumption. For sustainable product design it says substituting classic petroleum-based raw materials with recyclable and bio-based raw materials is crucial. It is also focusing on degradable solutions in development processes, and current sustainability measures are flanked by continuous efforts to substitute critical contents and minimise emissions and odours.
Bio-solution and recyclability
Currently, the surface material Xpreshn can already be produced with renewable raw materials, and it provides a solution that is both light and environmentally friendly.
Dr. Gabriele Wittmann, Head of Global Surface Research at Continental said, “With bio-based Xpreshn, we can deliver a product with an optimal CO2 footprint that combines excellent technical properties and a large range of design options.” Recycling is an essential step toward conserving resources.”
The goal is to close the cycle of a product. The development of single-variety composites – monomaterials – enables recycling processes from which high-quality raw materials for new or original products can be generated. Continental says Xpreshn, the material for door panels and the instrument panel, can also be realised as a completely recyclable monomaterial, which means that it can be returned to the circular economy in its entirety.
The material also offers solutions for recycling concepts with entire components, if the carrier component and the surface are made of the same materials, for instance. Then they can be recycled together at the end of their service life.
Continental says it has already developed numerous products that possess these properties and also retain their proven premium properties. For example, Acella synthetic leather is a durable product with recycled materials and bio-based raw materials combined with an rPET textile.
The yarns to produce the textile for the rear coverings are made from recycled plastic bottles. As a robust and easy-to-clean product with a range of highly variable designs, Acella whets the customer’s interest in sustainable products and does not compromise on product properties.
“We can already offer our customers premium surface solutions that are 100 percent carbon-neutral,” said Wittmann. The key being substituting classic petroleum-based raw materials with bio-based, CO2-based or recycled raw materials.
Inspiration from nature
Continental says Benova Eco Protect stands for more sustainability, durability and comfort in the vehicle interior.
An example of these solutions is Benova Eco Protect, which won the German Innovation Award. With its unique product features, it represents an essential milestone in the development of sustainable vehicle interiors. The innovative material is exceptionally hard-wearing and highly durable. It also offers new possibilities for interior design trends.
Another example: Lower weight means a lower CO2 footprint for the product and a vehicle’s energy consumption.
“Our surfaces are designed for maximum performance and are also lightweight and robust,” shared Wittmann. A longer service life also contributes to sustainability, even under high stress levels, particularly in shared mobility concepts and commercial vehicles. “Our staynu technology makes surfaces resistant to contamination and mechanical & chemical stress caused by cleaning agents, for instance – so the surfaces are durable.”
At present, the staynu technology is mainly used on seats and add-on parts, but in the future, it will also be possible to use it for the instrument panel.Continental says it is a well-known fact that an acute lack of drivers plagues many logistics companies.
The International Road Transport Union (IRU) estimates a European shortage of 6,00,000 professional drivers. The aim here is to increase the attractiveness of the workplace to retain staff and attract career starters, and comfort in the driver’s cab is a decisive factor.
The German tier 1 uses modern design trends with natural colours and grains. Ambient light on backlit surfaces made of translucent materials sets emotional accents in the vehicle interior. Heated surfaces also provide a completely new comfort experience, and their low-energy consumption, rapid heating and lightweight construction make them climate-friendly.