Global car firms turn to Indian jute for trims

Jayanta Mallick Kolkata | Updated on January 19, 2018 Published on January 14, 2016

The popularity of low-cost and lightweight-but-strong jute fibres is increasing among automakers for usage in automotive components.

Major global automakers have started using jute fibre-based composites for making door panels and dashboards. Sanjay Kajaria, former Chairman of Indian Jute Mills Association, told BusinessLine recent business intelligence has suggested that Mercedes, Ford, Toyota, Tesla and Chrysler have started using jute-based composites for car interiors.

According to industry sources, natural fibre composites have a clear focus on interior trims for high-value doors and dashboards. Along with kenaf and hemp, jute from India has also found its way lately, into compressed and moulded composite substrates.

Kajaria said, “Jute sourced from India and Bangladesh, specifically processed elsewhere in the world, is being used for making composites for automobile industry. It has opened up new opportunities as well as challenges. There are very few units that can catch up with the particular processing technology.”

According to trade estimates, about 100 tonnes of processed and compressed jute fibres were used in the past one year for automotive parts.

In recent years, the automotive industry has been looking for use of suitable natural fibre-based composites. Recently, an international chemical company conducted an extensive test using non-woven fabrics of India-made jute, with their impregnated resin, and found it appropriate.

This prompted composite makers to go in for non-woven needle punched jute substrates.

For the Indian jute mills, which are habituated to manufacturing jute textiles – primarily for producing sackings – non-woven but processed jute mats as composite substrate is a new concept.

Industry sources said a few local jute units have set up facilities, which can produce such jute substrates or mats for composites.

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Published on January 14, 2016
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