“Automotive Interiors Expo opened its doors this year to record visitor levels, and was solidly busy from the moment it opened, right the way through to close,” reported show founder, Tony Robinson. “The show demonstrated a very high level of innovation in materials and finishes, with many exhibitors presenting products that are enabling car manufacturers to create low-cost, high-technology and increasingly refined auto environments, even in their cheaper models.”
The hall floor was home to record numbers of exhibitors, with 100 in attendance. Impressed with the diversity of innovative products was showgoer Nicholas Harrison, a body designer for interior at Toyota Motor Europe: “It’s really interesting and very varied. For me, another interesting part was the presentations, particularly the discussion hosted by Frank Stephenson, who is a design director at McLaren, UK.”
Exhibitors reported a successful show, too. Simon Slater, European business manager at Heathcoat Fabrics, commented, “This is the first time we’ve exhibited here and it’s been very encouraging in terms of the quantity and quality of visitors so far. We’ve spoken with several OEMs who we’ve never had contact with, and re-established contact with several others.”
Among the new technologies on display were Addiplast’s new ADDIBIO Renew GEI 52009 + GEI 52021 bio-based compounds for coloured interior aesthetic parts. These are very low in density and use a renewable polypropylene compound, which saves costs as well as weight because the compounds can be injected into the same tools as polypropylene filled with minerals.
Visitors were also attracted to Ponsa’s stand to learn more about its newest motorsport webbing featuring patented technology. It was created in partnership with OMP, and is designed to be the lightest, yet most resistant, safety harness, suitable for all car competitions. This is partly due to the special fibres and advanced finishing, which provide a weight saving of 50%, and 30% more resistance compared with previous webbings.
As ever, the show provided the perfect platform to meet new and existing contacts: “We’ve made almost 45 new contacts and 15% have already put forward proposal drawings. In three days I have made more contacts than I did at a show in Frankfurt over six days!” said Cristian Preda, export manager for Electromagnetica.
Two first-time exhibitors took the opportunity to present their protective coatings that are new to the industry. Cotec’s Duralon UltraTec 3D coating is extremely hydrophobic and oleophobic, and easy to clean. Applied by vacuum evaporation, spray or dip coating, it increases the water repellence of products as well as the resistance to dirt, oil and watermarks.
Meanwhile, Europlasma’s direct and stain-repellent coating is applied by low-pressure plasma polymerisation. “It has two functions,” explained sales account manager, Kristof Hoornaert. “The layer that we apply with our technology is between 50nm and 500nm. It is applied not only on the surface but also inside the fabric, and it has a permanent effect. We can also eliminate the use of a primer because we can glue or paint this directly to plastics if the material is run through our plasma machine first.”Hoornaert was pleased with its first experience at the show: “It’s been very promising. There are no tourists – everybody who is here is looking to find a solution or something for an application.”
A new, sustainable, lightweight thermoplastic range was on display at the Luxus stand. As part of a consortium with Jaguar Land Rover, Luxus has secured a €1.4m investment co-funded by the Eco-innovation initiative of the European Union. Luxus aims to commercialise its Hycolene range of lightweight polypropylene compounds, which feature up to 60% recycled content.
This year’s Interiors Innovation and Design Forum was packed with presentations covering the latest industry topics. Irene Lobo, who works in the R&D department at TMG Automotive, presented at the forum: “It’s been a really good show for us; we did a presentation together with Daimler and we are also here on business. We’ve seen lots of interesting stuff, particularly for vehicle interior trim.”
Meanwhile, this year’s winners of the Automotive Interiors Expo Awards were also announced. For his work on the XC90, Robin Page, Volvo’s vice president of interior design, received the honour of Interior Designer of the Year. Page’s work, which includes a virtually button-free, high-tech touchscreen control console, was recognised as helping to build the company’s luxury credentials. Page said, “I am humbled by this award. The interior design of the XC90 reflects a paradigm shift for Volvo Cars. At Volvo Cars we focus on creating an overall luxury life experience. This means using natural materials such as wood, leather and crystal in a way that delivers calmness and serenity to the driving experience.”
In the other categories, Johnson Controls was recognised through the Supplier of the Year award. BMW won the Interior Innovation of the Year – Production Vehicle award for the instrument cluster on the BMW i8, which it co-developed with Bosch. Two other awards categories focused on concept car design and innovation across the interiors sector. The Interior Design of the Year – Concept Vehicle saw the Mercedes-Benz F 015 take top honours. Faurecia scooped the Concept Interior Innovation of the Year for its lightweight seats in the Renault Eolab concept.
Automotive Interiors Expo exhibitors represent the A-Z of car interiors, with our exhibitors' products being found in vehicles from just about every car manufacturer you can name, from Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren and Porsche through to GM, Volkswagen, Jaguar, BMW, Kia Toyota and Chery, to name just a few! Speciality finishes are a strong theme of the expo, with companies offering plastic compounding and master-batching, metalised plastics and chrome-look plastics, with others presenting hot foil stamping, film insert moulding and styrenic finishes. You'll find a wide range of fabrics, acoustical materials, shape-forming materials and foams, fasteners and adhesive systems, lighting and more! The show is a must-visit for Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers as well as for interior design teams from car manufacturers wanting to keep up with the rapidly changing world of materials, finishes and technologies that contribute to 'touch and feel'.
The show is of equal significance to design teams and procurement people, and is full of things to see whether you are working as an interior designer or, just as importantly, as a Tier 1 or 2 component manufacturer. This is the solutions show with a tremendous number of innovative products to see!
Once again, the FREE-TO-ATTEND Interiors Innovation & Design Forum will have a series of presentations that will discuss future styling trends and technical innovations from industry OEMs, Tier 1 and Tier 2 manufacturers, suppliers, research institutions and styling houses.