Clean Surfaces and Safe In-Cabin Air – New Global Survey by Asahi Kasei Shows Growing Need for Hygienic Automotive Interiors

NOVI, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 4, 2021--

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed mobility. It has also changed the car user’s perception of safety and comfort inside automotive vehicles. As a result, the global car user’s willingness to invest in solutions against pathogens on interior surfaces and the in-cabin air is growing. This development is one of the key findings of the second Asahi Kasei Automotive Interior Survey conducted in December 2020.

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Recent surveys show that the use of public transport and ride sharing services has declined severely. In contrast, the demand for automobiles to have safer interiors that provide a low risk for infection is increasing. The survey suggests that the pandemic will have a lasting effect on existing and future mobility concepts, as well as on the materials and technologies used inside vehicles.

As the main interface between the user and the car, surface materials are defining how the driver and the passengers perceive the automotive interior and, more importantly, the driving experience itself. In the past, automotive interiors needed to be comfortable, attractive, and smooth to the touch. The COVID-19 pandemic is adding a new dimension to this topic, clearly raising the needs for the overall cleanliness and safety against invisible threats inside the car.

This development was also confirmed by the "Global Asahi Kasei Automotive Interior Survey" conducted in December 2020 by Asahi Kasei and the Cologne-based market research institute SKOPOS. 500 vehicle users in each of the global automotive core markets USA, Germany, China, and Japan were asked about their preferences in regard to the future automotive interior.

Global car users see benefit in easy-to-maintain surfaces and air filtration systems

One key finding of the survey was the importance of cleanliness inside the car. For the USA respondents, 56% of car users are putting a great emphasis on this topic – valuing it even higher than connectivity, the intuitive operation, or the personalization of the car. The same results can be observed in the other markets as well. For example, four out of five car users in China find cleanliness inside the car important (see fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Rising Importance of Cleanliness Inside the Car

Questions:

USA

Germany

Japan

China

I put great emphasis on the cleanliness of my car.

56%

64%

58%

82%

All features for operating the car have to be intuitive.

45%

54%

31%

79%

All settings in my car are personalized to suit my personal needs.

50%

54%

26%

59%

I like connectivity features of my car.

52%

45%

19%

74%

Good-looking premium surfaces are important to me.

50%

40%

23%

69%

While the perception of cleanliness is subjective, it becomes clear that this topic is influencing car users around the world. While premium and lasting interior looks climb in importance, more people are increasingly aware of the surfaces they touch and the air they breathe – especially in a confined space like a car. When asked about features they would consider beneficial in their next car, 80% of the respondents in the USA pointed out “surface and seating materials that are easy to wash,” followed by water and dirt repellent surfaces,” (72%) and “advanced air filtration system filtering the OUTSIDE AIR entering the vehicle” (68%) (see fig. 2). The same features are also clearly influencing car users in Germany and China. In addition, 87% of car users in China see a benefit in an “advanced air filtration system filtering the AIR WITHIN the vehicle,” and 83% in “surfaces that can eliminate viruses in places you touch the most.”

Fig. 2: Global Car Users See Benefit in Hygienic Interior Features

Questions:

USA

Germany

Japan

China

Surface and seating materials that are easy to wash.

80%

75%

54%

87%

Advanced air filtration system filtering the OUTSIDE AIR entering the vehicle.

68%

69%

63%

85%

Advanced air filtration system filtering the AIR WITHIN the vehicle

68%

64%

60%

87%

Water and dirt repellent surfaces.

72%

66%

65%

82%

Surfaces with materials that can eliminate viruses and bacteria in places you touch the most.

55%

52%

62%

83%

Automated disinfection of surfaces within the vehicle.

55%

37%

61%

74%

Iichiro Kitsuda, Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning and Marketing at Asahi Kasei America, comments, “This survey sheds light on the lasting importance of clean automotive interiors as we transition to a post-COVID era. Automotive manufacturers will need to adapt to the users concerns and adjust to the high demand for clean automotive interiors not only in private cars, but in all future mobility concepts.”

Willingness to pay for hygienic features

Car users’ accelerating needs for hygienic features are also reflected in the readiness to pay for solutions that provide safe surfaces and air inside the car. For example, nearly 90% of USA respondents who are looking to purchase a large or luxury vehicle would be willing to spend 750 USD for a “Surface Protect” Package* 1 and nearly 80% of truck and SUV buyers would be willing to spend the same amount.

A similar trend can be seen in regard to features that contribute to air safety. When purchasing a new car, nearly 90% of USA respondents who are looking to purchase a large or luxury vehicle and over 80% of truck and SUV buyers would be willing to spend 750 USD for a “Cabin Protect” Package* 2, which ensures safe air inside the passenger compartment.

Kitsuda continues, “The data in this study confirms that consumers are willing and ready to pay more for advanced technologies when they shop for cars – as long as it boasts heightened safety from both threats we can and cannot see. This is where Asahi Kasei’s Healthy Car Portfolio shines through: we are proactively developing products that can be used to keep both private and shared vehicles cleaner and safer. The survey shows that this is exactly what consumers from around the world expect from the vehicles they occupy. We’re looking forward to teaming up with the forward thinkers in the automotive industry to help contribute to a safer, more comfortable automotive experience of tomorrow.”

*1 Surface Protect Package: A hypothetical, optional package with interior materials that provide anti-viral/ anti-microbial properties, stain, and odor resistance and improved weathering and scratch resistance.

*2 Cabin Protect Package: A hypothetical, optional package including an automated ventilation system that eliminates microbes and pathogens in cabin air, monitors CO2 levels to reduce drowsiness, and provides active occupant sensing for child/pet left behind.

About the Automotive Interior Survey

This survey is the continuation of Asahi Kasei Europe’s Automotive Interiors Survey from 2019 with an expanded global audience. Data was collected via an online survey panel December 8th-15th, 2020. For the 500 respondents in the USA, the average age was 44 years old with 72% living in urban areas. Over 50% of the respondents had an income level between $35,000 and $100,000 per year.

About Asahi Kasei Automotive Marketing

Established in 2017 as part of the Marketing and Innovation group within Asahi Kasei, our mission is to promote the Asahi Kasei brand and products to the mobility industry. This is accomplished by operating as both a marketing arm and business development organization for the company. With offices in Japan, USA, Germany, and China, we can focus on the regional needs, while also coordinating strategies to address trends affecting the global mobility industry.

About Asahi Kasei

The Asahi Kasei Group contributes to life and living for people around the world. Since its foundation in 1922 with ammonia and cellulose fiber business, Asahi Kasei has consistently grown through the proactive transformation of its business portfolio to meet the evolving needs of every age. With more than 40,000 employees around the world, the company contributes to sustainable society by providing solutions to the world's challenges through its three business sectors of Material, Homes, and Health Care. Its health care operations include devices and systems for acute critical care, dialysis, therapeutic apheresis, transfusion, and manufacture of biotherapeutics, as well as pharmaceuticals and diagnostic reagents. For more information, visit www.asahi-kasei.com.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210504005096/en/

CONTACT: Inquiries About the Survey or Healthy Car Portfolio:

ATTN: Mike Franchy

Asahi Kasei America, Inc

[email protected]

https://asahi-kasei-mobility.com/en/

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA MICHIGAN

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: OFF-ROAD TRUCKS & SUVS GENERAL AUTOMOTIVE FLEET MANAGEMENT HEALTH AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING MANUFACTURING AFTERMARKET ALTERNATIVE VEHICLES/FUELS AUTOMOTIVE MARKETING GENERAL HEALTH COMMUNICATIONS RECREATIONAL VEHICLES PERFORMANCE & SPECIAL INTEREST

SOURCE: Asahi Kasei

Copyright Business Wire 2021.

PUB: 05/04/2021 09:00 AM/DISC: 05/04/2021 09:02 AM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210504005096/en

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