Celebrating its 100e anniversary on May 25, Japan’s Asahi Kasei has set its sights squarely on the future with the unveiling of a next-generation concept car, AKXY2 (pronounced “axe-ee”). The vehicle reimagines how the values of sustainability, satisfaction and society will influence future mobility needs on the path to automation and electrification in a changing society.
Along with advances in legislation, changing customer demands are causing OEMs to scrap existing processes in favor of safer, more comfortable and more durable vehicles, convincing various end users that they are meeting these demands, Heiko commented. Rother, general manager of the automotive business. Development at Asahi Kasei Europe. “We have to act quickly. Our recent survey from November 2021 shows that 50% of car users in the four main automotive markets – the United States, Germany, Japan and China – will choose a brand different from the one they currently own. The materials used in the car are a key enabler for multiple differentiators and user experience beyond drivetrain or driving performance, whether visible or not,” Rother said.
The AKXY2 concept car demonstrates Asahi Kasei’s cross-divisional expertise across the value chain, from raw materials and production technologies to the use of recycled and recyclable materials, while responding to changing regulations and the needs of car users. Virtually everything that can be seen or touched in the vehicle is manufactured or co-developed by Asahi Kasei. The car features materials and solutions that touch the senses, improve safety and guarantee the highest functionality while reducing its environmental impact. The concept of the vehicle is guided by the theme of the “3 S”: Sustainability, Satisfaction and Society.
AKXY2 is more durable
From textiles to elastomers, Asahi Kasei materials that can help reduce the carbon footprint are integrated into the vehicle. Interior surfaces are lined with Dinamica, a microfiber suede partially made from recycled polyester. Sage Automotive Interiors can also supply other sustainable fabrics using raw materials ranging from recycled and bio-based PET to natural blends and ocean waste. The vehicle seats are upholstered with Cubit, a partially bio-based PET and PTT 3D mesh material.
AKXY2 is a source of satisfaction
The needs of car occupants are changing. One of the major themes of AKXY2 revolves around the senses – from the futuristic look and feel of textiles to the soundproof atmosphere of the cabin. To meet evolving safety needs beyond accidents, elements of Asahi Kasei’s Healthy Car portfolio are implemented to protect the automobile 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 consumption. Additionally, semi-transparent, backlit fabrics and plastic fiber optics allow for personalized mood lighting inside the vehicle, while durable textiles and foams equip the seats with a new level of comfort.
AKXY2 is for society
One of the fundamental concepts of AKXY2 considers the role that 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 house.
Image courtesy of Asahi Kasei
|The interior of The AKXY2 concept car envisions a space for socializing, much like a house patio.|
Thanks to a collaboration with the European and American sites of the Sage Automotive Interiors group company, a range of automotive interior fabrics are presented, allowing greater customization of the interior compared to the first AKXY. Regarding the use of interior space, concepts for potential synergy with the Homes sector of Asahi Kasei are proposed to improve collaboration with customers and automotive users. The functions of the opening/closing solution for the doors and the canopy and the heated seats are carried out 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.