Give us a brief overview: How does this kind of material development work?
In the interior division, we usually outline a development objective, then Volkswagen development approaches suppliers and requests test materials. Based on this, we focus on developing an optimised material that is suitable for series production. This is the case with coffee leather: The raw material for innovative imitation leather is supplied by the Heimbs coffee roasting house based in Braunschweig. They are able to produce on an industrial scale and are working very closely with us.
As a global volume manufacturer, Volkswagen needs this industrial-scale capability. It is not enough for a material to pass the right tests in the lab. It is just as important for our suppliers to be able to produce on a large scale, or to be ready to develop in this direction in collaboration with Volkswagen – and to expand themselves or change their offering in the process.
What is the next major milestone in your line of work?
For us, the highest possible percentage of recyclable materials is very important. We are currently working on a special edition in the ID. family. In these cars, the roof liner, fabrics, carpets, seats, door panels and finishes are made from a sustainable material that comprises up to 100 percent recycled materials – for example, plastic bottles. This high percentage of recycleable materials in a production interior significantly sets us apart from the competition. And this is a lighthouse project within the Volkswagen Group. As an example: Either 140 recycled 1.5-litre plastic bottles or 380 recycled 500-ml plastic bottles are used in the ID.42. Volkswagen is thereby taking on a pioneering role and proving that we are serious about our commitment to sustainability.