The use of textiles in the automotive industry is set for significant growth
The average weight of textile materials in a mid-size car has increased from 20 kg in 2000 to 26 kg today, and by 2020 it is expected to reach 35 kg. The increase stems from a rise in demand for greater comfort and safety, and efforts aimed at reducing the weight of a vehicle in order to lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
In terms of fabric type, it has been predicted that woven fabrics and knitted fabrics will continue to account for a predominant share of the global market for automotive textiles. This prediction holds true despite a rise in the use of nonwovens and an increase in the penetration of composites.
Nonwovens are being employed increasingly in vehicles because of their low weight and low cost. In fact, there are now more than 40 applications for nonwovens inside cars, equating to over 35 square metres of flat surfaces.
Furthermore, the use of recycled materials in nonwovens for automotive applications is increasing. A growing proportion of needlepunched nonwovens for automotive applications, for example, is being manufactured from recycled polyester derived from plastic bottles. There has also been an increase in the use of natural fibre nonwovens in vehicles. In many applications, natural fibre nonwovens are used as the substrate in composite parts.
In the future, there will be significant growth in the market for passive safety devices -- which include airbags and seat belts -- as a result of new US legislation which will make the fitting of side-impact airbags mandatory on all vehicles in 2013. The automotive safety market has grown faster than the automotive market as a whole for many years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
However, there are a number of other areas in the automotive industry where the use of textiles is expected to expand or new applications for textiles are expected to be found in the years ahead.
In particular, there will be growing opportunities for using nonwovens and other textiles in applications such as battery separators and polyurethane foam replacement, as well as in new heating and lighting materials and acoustic insulation components in the interiors of vehicles. In addition, nonwoven materials are now being employed in the exteriors of vehicles -- especially as undershields and outer wheel arch liners.
"Automotive Fabrics: Expanding Opportunities in the Vehicles of Tomorrow" was published by the global business information company Textiles Intelligence in issue No 90 of Technical Textile Markets.
Other reports published in the same issue include: "Editorial: Europe's Man-Made Fibre Producers Under Pressure"; "Product Developments and Innovations"; "The World Nonwovens Industry: Part 1The Leading Ten Producers"; "Global Technical Textiles Business Update"; and "Statistics: Nonwoven Fabric Production in Asia".
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