Canadian General-Tower’s (CGT) new Vehreo coverstock uses recycled post consumer waste and biological-based feedstocks as key ingredients in a material composition with an overall sustainable content that exceeds 40%.
“Vehreo’s composition is a vinyl-coated fabric with bio-based and recycled content. The backing fabric is made with 100% recycled yarn, and the PVC film has a minimum 20% bio-based and recycled content,” Margaret Soares, Product Development Specialist for CGT Ltd., told SAE Magazines.
CGT’s commercially available coverstock uses Unifi Inc.’s Repreve-branded fabric as the supporting textile for the flexible skin. The Repreve fabric is 100% PET (polyethylene terephthalate) hybrid polyester. A bio-based formulation that includes soybean oil and castor bean oil serves as the flexible skin.
During the proprietary production process, approximately 1.5% of the edge trim’s skin is recycled and accounts for approximately 4% of the coverstock’s content by weight.
“The formulation in the skin and foam contribute to the sustainability of the material, while the textile contributes to the recycled content of the product,” according to Soares, a materials science engineer.
CGT’s eco-smart surface has the look and feel of leather.
“Our product goes through the same rigorous testing as a conventional coverstock. There are no shortcuts to the testing. Vehreo meets sun, odor, fogging, and other OE requirements,” said Soares.
Innovative engineering enables CGT material specialists to meet material breathability and other targets.
“We can add or subtract raw materials to the formulation. We can add micro-pores on the skin. We also can lessen the attraction of the sun—making the material cooler to the touch—with a specific surface treatment,” Soares said.
Lilana Nicoghosian, Product Marketing/Design Manager of CGT’s Automotive Products Division, said synthetic material usage is gaining in popularity.
“We’re going to see more synthetic materials incorporated into the automotive interior. These materials have a very deceiving look. You actually can’t tell what the material is when looking at it. And that’s part of the attraction,” Nicoghosian said.
Sustainable synthetics can be especially appealing to the millennial generation, representing persons born in the late 1970s through the early 2000s.
“The younger generation identifies with synthetics as an engineered material. They like the look and the technology behind it,” Nicoghosian said. “The OEM design studios are really keen on that. They know that future buyers like that type of look, so providing the look within an eco-friendly technology is really the way to go with automotive interiors.”
Initial production of Vehreo, which can be used for seats as well as door panels and other interior trim locations, will occur at CGT’s production center in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. The facility became the first manufacturing plant in North America registered to ISO 14001 environmental standard compliance in 2000.
Vehreo’s vehicle application debut is likely in MY2017. “We’re working with several automakers to position the product based on their sustainable strategy,” Soares said.