Automakers make concept cars, but not every concept car is made by an automaker. That’s the case with the freshly-released AKXY2, created by Japan’s Asahi Kasei, a diversified supply company that makes everything from textiles and chemicals to automotive supplies, and from medical products to dish soap and Saran Wrap.
The autonomous electric AKXY2 — pronounced ax-ee — was built to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary and shows off some of its technologies. According to the company, “virtually everything that can be seen, touched or felt in the vehicle is either manufactured or co-developed by Asahi Kasei,” and the concept is driven by a “3 S’s” theme of sustainability, satisfaction, and society.
The AKXY2 is an open-space vehicle that can be modified to its passengers’ needs. “Aside from advancements in legislation, evolving demands from customers are causing (automakers) to tear down existing processes in favour of safer, more comfortable and more sustainable vehicles,” said Heiko Rother, General Manager of Automotive Business Development at Asahi Kasei Europe. Rother added that when buying their next vehicle, 50 per cent of car owners in the U.S., Germany, Japan, and China will choose a different brand, and the materials in the car are just as important to differentiate their choice as the drivetrain or performance.
The concept’s interior surfaces include a microfibre suede made partially from recycled polyester, and seat cushions made with recycled and bio-based plastic; a CO2 sensor monitors air quality in the cabin. The tires are made from bio-based synthetic rubber.
Passengers get into the AKXY2 after the canopy is raised and the door is opened to become a ramp. That’s done with ultrasound touch sensors that Asahi Kasei co-developed with UltraSense, a U.S.-based Human Machine Interface (HMI) company; the two also designed the car’s heated seats.
“One of Asahi Kasei’s greatest strengths…is the ability to draw from our diverse product portfolio across multiple group companies, and collaborate with outside start-ups to create new concepts such as smart fabrics,” said Mike Frenchy, Director of North American Mobility at Asahi Kasei America.
The AKXY2 was debuted in May at the Automotive Engineering Exposition in Yokohama, Japan. It will also be shown at the Detroit Auto Show in September 2022, and at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January 2023.