Mazda has announced the development of a new fabric for use in their vehicle interiors that is made entirely from plant fibers. Mazda worked with Teijin Limited and Teijin Fibers Limited to produce a material that has the durability necessary for use as a seat cover or other interior surface without wearing out prematurely, fading or sustaining other damage.

The fibers all come from non-food plants and contain no petroleum products. The first application of the new material is in the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid research vehicle that's coming to the Tokyo Motor Show next month. The Premacy will also use a new bioplastic material for the instrument cluster. The Mazda press release is after the jump.

[Source: Mazda]
Mazda Press Release

HIROSHIMA, Japan-The world's first biofabric made with completely plant-derived fibers, suitable for use in vehicle interiors, has been developed by Mazda Motor Corporation in collaboration with Teijin Limited and Teijin Fibers Limited. This newly developed biofabric does not contain any oil-based materials, yet it possesses the quality and durability required for use in vehicle seat covers. Resistant to abrasion and damage from sunlight, in addition to being flame retardant, the new biofabric meets the highest quality standards. Based on this biotechnology, Mazda will strengthen its future research and development on non-food-based materials in consideration of the impact such technologies have on food supplies. Mazda plans to use the biofabric for the seat covers and door trim in the all-new Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid that will be exhibited in October at the Tokyo Motor Show 2007. The all-new Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid will also feature a bioplastic, which Mazda developed in 2006, in the vehicle's instrument panel and other interior fittings.

All of Mazda's biomaterials fall under the "Mazda Biotechmaterial" brand name. Mazda is dedicated to continuing its research and development efforts for these environmentally friendly technologies which will help to realize a sustainable society in the future.

This newly developed biofabric has harnessed the latest technologies to control the entire molecular architecture of raw resins to improve fiber strength until the fabric attained sufficient resistance to abrasion and light damage for practical use in vehicle seat covers. The biofabric is made of 100 percent polylactic acid--a plastic created by combining large numbers of lactic acid molecules that are made from fermented carbohydrates such as plant sugars. Mazda developed this new biofabric in collaboration with Teijin Limited and Teijin Fibers Limited, companies with R&D and manufacturing sites in the region near Mazda's headquarters in Hiroshima. Other crucial qualities necessary for the highest performing fabrics, such as fire retardant properties, were achieved through Mazda's accumulated experience in surface technologies built up through years of cooperation with several local companies.

Seita Kanai, Mazda's director and senior executive officer in charge of R&D, said, "Mazda succeeded in developing this 100 percent plant-derived biofabric for use in vehicle interiors by leveraging the technical expertise we have amassed in the Hiroshima area. We are convinced that our new technology, which enables the manufacture of this material without any oil-based resources, will become a cornerstone for future biotechnologies aimed at reducing the burden on the environment. Mazda, working together with our locally-based partners, will continue its research and development programs aimed at achieving a future car society that is eco-friendly."

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