With the rising level of automobile production and its corresponding worldwide stocks based on the rapid industrialisation in Asia, Africa and Latin America plus the rising demand in Eastern Europe, the proportion of textiles in a motor car is increasing in response to more stringent comfort and safety needs in industrialised countries like the USA, Japan and Western Europe.
Automobile textiles, which are non PERFORMANCE FABRIC apparel textiles, are widely used in vehicles like cars, trains, buses, aircraft and marine vehicles. Hence, the term automobile textile means all type of textile components e.g. fibers, filaments, yarns and the fabric used in automobiles.
Nearly two third of the automobile textiles are for interior trim, i.e. seat cover, carpets and roof and door liners. The rest is utilized to reinforce tyres, hoses, safety belts, air bags, etc.
It is projected that nearly 45 square meters of textile material is utilized in a car for interior trim (seating area, headlines, side panel, carpet and trunk). According to a survey, the percentage of textile in a motor car amounts to 2 per cent of the overall weight of a car. Apart from this, visible textile components, eliminating hidden components such as in tyres and composites, hoses and filters; amount to 10-11 kg per vehicle in absolute terms. Industrial textiles are largely utilized in vehicles and systems including cars, buses, trains, air crafts and marine vehicles. In automobile textile industry, four types of fabrics are used, namely:
. Air bag fabrics
. Fabric used as a basis for reduction in weight of body parts
. Tyre cord fabrics
. Automotive upholstery and other textile fabrics used inside the vehicle
The airbag and seat belts used as safety measures are one of the latest types of textiles in automobiles and have a potential market for technical textiles that has a considerable scope for growth and development. Because of government legislation and consumer interest, the applications have been extremely successful over the last ten to fifteen years.
In the last decade, airbags or inflatable restraints have received noteworthy significance as a safeguard for the driver and the passengers in case of an accident. Initially, the bags were made for head-on collision, but now, there are many other safety devices like side impact bags, knee bolsters, side curtain, etc, available for safety in any type of crash. Because frontal collisions are a main reason of accidental deaths, airbags are being presented as a standard product in vehicles by legislation, which has given the quick increment of airbags business in the last decade. NHTSA and HHS report that airbag systems have played an important role in saving thousands of lives since 1985. In 2002 alone, due to the airbag system a 20 per cent reduction in fatalities resulting from fatal collisions has been observed.
In 1999, there were 55 million vehicles with 81 million airbags. In 2004, the number of frontal airbag units was nearly 100 million and the number of side-impact airbags nearly 65 million. In the same year, nearly 23 per cent of the new vehicles in North America had side airbags for chest protection and 17 per cent had side airbags for head protection. By 2005, this has increased to 180 million airbags and 65 million vehicles.