As consumers' concepts of vehicle ownership also change, "crafted interiors" will become the new normal to meet requirements for shared mobility and autonomous vehicles.
More resilient and "smart" materials can account for key requirements to interior development like cleanliness or noise dampening that will also affect the shapes of components, Ryntz said.
Microbial growth on some materials can cause discoloration, odor or polymer degradation, she said.
"There are things that can be done with antimicrobial agents to prevent these types of degradation," Ryntz said, like including additives such as chlorine, ammonium, long-chain alkanes or inorganics like silver, copper and zinc halides.
Plastic interior parts in shared vehicles will also need to be durable to the use of any disinfectant and deodorizing sprays.
"Certain basic chemicals, some alcohols, can not only stress craze polycarbonate, but may have some impact on the overall durability of the plastic part," she said.
HEPA filtration and ultraviolet light can help avoid chemical sprays — "depending on the bacteria, it's not one size fits all," she added — and self-healing ingredients like polyrotaxanes in acrylics can help with wear and tear.
"As the combustion engine goes away, we will hear more noise from air, wind, rain and rocks and other things that hit the underbelly of our vehicle," Ryntz said.
Noise from rocks hitting metal and steel chassis, or enclosed battery packs made of aluminum or plastic plus wheels and wheel arches, can be abated using heavy, layered materials, she said, "that contain heavy minerals like barium or calcium in very high levels, used for example between the engine and the interior cabin called a dash mat."
Heavy materials don't go well in combination with trying to lightweight a vehicle, Ryntz said.
Lightweight honeycomb materials, which dissipate the sound through different layers of lattice structures, could quiet the acoustics in electric vehicles.
"Putting some tortuous path through it … with different material properties that can abate that noise altogether," Ryntz said.
Another interior design challenge as the EV market takes hold, she said, is the control of temperature without a combustion engine to expel heat for the passenger cabin.
"That was a perfect heat source," Ryntz said.
Smaller motors or heating pads might be used to emanate heat or blow cold air, she said, while pigments in plastics could also be used to control temperatures.
"Black plastics typically retain and dissipate a lot of the heat," Ryntz said. "Expect a lot of research being done in that area."
As vehicle electronics go through new iterations of technology more and more quickly, new developments will need to go "well beyond the glass or plastic that's used in the curved display," she said.
"Typically, [there is, in] a two- to four-year period, 28-30 new iterative advances in electronics," Ryntz said. "Printing circuits directly on the back of plastic materials holds a whole new array of requirements from that interface between the electronic components and plastics or glass material."