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Germ-phobic vegan interiors: How car sharing is changing the materials of car cabins

More bums on seats means a new way of thinking when it comes to interior materials.

Car sharing is expected to incite the introduction of new germ-phobic vegan materials in car cabins.

The ever-increasing prevalence of car sharing - either run by third-party operators, as part of subscription services, or by owners trying to generate a little extra income to pay off their new wheels - has raised the question of cleanliness and hygiene when it comes to cabin materials.

Leather, fake leather, leatherette, faux-leather, vinyl; all of these trims are considered easy to wipe down and generally not porous (unless the seats are ventilated), and have long been the go-to choice for car brands. Of course there are fabric seat trims made of mixed materials - polyester, cotton, denim and mixed materials. 

That's all well and good if it's your own car, but according to research agency GlobalData, car companies are now looking at the fabrics used in the rail and aviation sectors, as well as considering how to use different lighting and scents to help hide the multiple odours left as a result of mixed-use motoring.

GlobalData automotive business editor, Simon Warburton, says that as cars are shared more, the materials used for seats, steering wheels, door trims and dashboards are likely to change to suit a multiple-user environment.

“Should the concept of shared and vehicle-on-demand applications become the norm, passenger car users will start to expect much higher cleanliness standards, for example,” said Mr Warburton. 

Renault has introduced a new recycled material for the cabin of the Zoe electric car. Renault has introduced a new recycled material for the cabin of the Zoe electric car.

“Interior component suppliers are actively working in this field, aiming to provide sanitised cockpits, which offer a high degree of hygiene, no matter how many users there are in a day,” he said.

Read More: Ride share 

“Increasingly, they are also looking to trends in hospitality, which are capitalising on a desire for authenticity and using natural ingredients and materials inside the car.”

Brands are working to make their car interiors more ecologically sustainable, as well.

Renault recently announced that its Zoe electric hatchback has switched to a 100 per cent recycled material cabin space, with a new ‘carded yarn’ material consisting of elements made of textile scraps from the automotive industry, as well as seatbelt strap offcuts and recycled plastic bottles.