Traverse City, Mich. — If the future of mobility is shared, as most studies suggest, key suppliers of auto interiors have a lot of questions about what that will mean about the instrument panels, door panels, center consoles and every other surface you see and touch.
"In that space, you're going to be looking at self-healing surfaces, so you don't have a scratched interior, self-cleaning, antidust, odor management," said Han Hendriks, chief technology officer for Yanfeng Automotive Interiors. "Also, how much cleaning do you have to do? What has to be cleaned once every 24 hours? Once a week? Once a month?
"What surfaces need to be replaced after three months or six months or a year?"
Instead of designing a car that will be used for four people, interior suppliers may be asked to design one for 4,000 different people. And rather than long-term ownership, consumers' experience with a particular brand may only be through 20-minute commutes.
"From a shared vehicle perspective, the first question you have to answer is what is the lifetime of that shared vehicle. It's not going to be 10 years, I don't believe, but you still have to have more durable materials," said Rose Ryntz, vice president of advanced development and material engineering for International Automotive Components, during the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City July 31-Aug. 2.
"Do you really want to get in a car when the person before you hasn't been clean? I don't want to even get into some taxis in New York, so we're definitely looking at the need for antimicrobial coatings on some plastics and some level of cleanability."