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Car Interiors Catching Up To Vehicle Longevity

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2019 Jeep Wrangler
2019 Jeep Wrangler
Photo: Jeep

The good news for all of us is that cars are lasting longer. Not everything is coming up roses, though, as interiors have a long way to go before they look good for the life of a vehicle. A report this month in USA Today offers a closer look at what automakers are doing to make their vehicles stand the test of time.

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Research from IHS Markit says that the average age of cars and light trucks on America’s roads hit a record high in 2018 at 11.8 years. Part of that is thanks to growing auto loan terms, so drivers hold on to their cars longer to pay them off. Automakers deserve credit for the rise in average age as well, thanks to longer-lasting powertrains across the board. Consumer Reports says that the previous benchmark for car lifespan has moved back from 100,000 miles to 150,000 miles thanks to these improvements.

While the engines under the hood of most cars are ready for many miles ahead, interiors aren’t quite there yet. Fabrics still fade, and lighter colors are subject to stains and blue-dye transfer, or when jeans with dark washes rub pigment off on car seats. PPG, a major auto industry supplier who works on paints and coatings, is reportedly working hard to develop materials for interiors that last for 15 years, up from the current 10-year standard. It’s not an easy process, requiring research into new materials and how they stand the test of time. While consumers wait, some automakers are upgrading their interiors to synthetic leather, which weathers better than traditional fabric while also upgrading passengers’ experiences.

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Beyond the fabrics of an interior, an infotainment system is now key and can influence how drivers feel about their cars. To make sure that their products keep up with the time, many automakers are upgrading their systems to let them receive upgrades over the air. That allows infotainment setups, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, to stay current with the times and keep up with new smart device capabilities.

All of these components merely graze the surface of the work going on to improve car interiors. We’ll see who makes their cars better first – this is not a race automakers want to come last in.

News Source: USA Today