Asahi Kasei Releases Automotive Interior Survey Results – Nonwovens Industry Magazine

In November 2021, Asahi Kasei, a diversified Japanese multinational, conducted its third “automotive interior survey” with the Cologne, Germany-based market research institute SKOPOS in the four main automotive markets: the United States States, Germany, China and Japan. 1,000 car users of varying income levels in each market answered questions regarding their car buying behavior, understanding of automotive durability and preferences for automotive interiors. This survey confirms the importance of Asahi Kasei’s healthy car portfolio in helping OEMs meet end-user needs.

Whether new or used, survey respondents prefer to continue to own in the future. Carpooling or not having a car were not attractive options (Fig.1).

84% of car users in China prefer to buy, finance or lease a new car, and they are willing to spend an average of 31% more on their next car. With a 7% increase over the cost of their current car, German motorists’ overall willingness to spend more money on their next car is significantly lower than in the US (+19%) and Japan (+ 10%). In addition, more than half of motorists prefer to buy a new car rather than a used car.

Additionally, the brand loyalty results confirm the findings of Asahi Kasei’s 2019 and 2020 surveys that consumers are willing to switch brands quite easily. When it comes to buying a new car, on average only half of drivers in Germany would choose the same brand as their current car. However, while car users in the United States and Japan experienced a similar trend to Germany, there was a stark contrast in China. In the world’s largest car market, 72% of car owners will consider another brand of car for their next purchase.

These figures reflect that a large proportion of motorists are not loyal to a single brand and must be convinced of this when buying their next car.

While fuel/electricity consumption, transmission technology, running costs and driving performance remain dominant decision factors, interior design has gained importance in recent years. One in two motorists in the four main markets will take interior design into account when making their next car purchase. With increasing electrification and automation, the interior is expected to become the main differentiator in the coming years, and its importance in the car buying process will increase further.

A key finding from the first survey of 2019 showed that car users around the world place a high value on cleanliness inside their car. Also in 2021, 64% of motorists in Germany placed great importance on the cleanliness of their car, at the expense of intuitive use (38%) and personalization (46%) (Fig. 2). A similar trend was observed in China (78%), Japan (72%) and the United States (62%).

Whether it’s a dirty floor, stains and scratches on interior surfaces, or an odor, the general understanding of cleanliness differs by region. While motorists in China are clearly bothered by “unpleasant odors” (48%) and the so-called “new car smell” (23%), the share of motorists bothered by these factors is significantly lower in the others. regions (Fig. 3). On the other hand, “scratches on visible surfaces” bother one in four motorists in Germany (25%). This share has increased further compared to 2020 (21%). The same can be seen in the United States, where 29% of motorists are bothered by scratches (2020: 19%). “Stains on fabrics” are also an annoyance factor for 30% of motorists in Germany (2020: 26%) and 32% in the USA (2020: 26%).

A significant share across all regions sees a benefit in “water and dirt repellent surfaces,” with 74% in China, 70% in the United States, 65% in Japan and 63% in Germany. “Easy-to-wash surface and seat materials” were also highly rated, especially in the US (81%) and China (80%).

Heiko Rother, General Manager Automotive Business Development at Asahi Kasei Europe, comments: “Cleanliness was highly valued by motorists even before the pandemic. The past two years have further fueled this desire, and the definition of “clean” has broadened. »

Mike Franchy, Director of North American Mobility at Asahi Kasei America, continues: “As the cost of vehicles increases, consumers have their vehicles longer and want surfaces that are highly durable, easy to clean and continue to look new. over time. In addition to our Healthy Car portfolio of antimicrobial textiles and plastics, as well as technology to ensure indoor air quality, we have solutions for OEMs to meet these market needs.

The survey results show that ‘durability’ is no longer only defined by transmission technology, but also by the choice of materials. For example, about half of motorists in Germany, China and the United States characterize a sustainable car based on “materials made from highly recyclable materials”. (Fig. 4). In contrast, car users in Japan have prioritized hybrid drives over recyclable materials when characterizing sustainable automobiles.

This growing awareness of sustainability in automobiles is also reflected in the willingness of the car user to spend more money on a sustainable vehicle. In China, two out of three motorists would pay more, in the United States and Japan a third and in Germany a quarter.

Rother concludes: “The definition and perception of sustainability in automobiles is changing. Motorists are more interested in the materials used – electrification alone is no longer enough. More durable interior surface materials that are also beautiful, durable, easy to maintain and clean will attract more attention from motorists. Ultimately, a “durable” quality of material is recognized as more durable. »

Franchy adds, “With our broad product line of engineering plastics from Asahi Kasei Plastics North America, textiles from Sage Automotive Interiors, and Crystal IS’s UVC technology for indoor air purification, we can work with OEMs as a trusted partner to develop interior functions and present consumer demand.

About this survey
This survey is the global follow-up to the 2019 Asahi Kasei Europe Automotive Interior Survey. In 2021, the company surveyed 1,000 car users in each of the four major automotive markets, Germany, China , the United States and Japan, on sustainability and their material and material preferences. features around the future automotive interior. To learn more about past surveys, please visit https://automotive.asahi-kasei.eu/stories-interior-story-2019/ and https://automotive.asahi-kasei.eu/interior-story.