Tesla is apparently working on a new type of fabric that is both soft and durable in order to make seating in its electric vehicles last longer.
The project comes to light in a new patent application that is just now becoming public after it being filed by Tesla late last year.
It’s called ‘Load-bearing Fabric Architecture’.
In the patent application, Tesla describes the problems with current “premium automotive textiles”:
“Current premium textiles that are used in automotive and other environments are made of fine wools (e.g., merino and cashmere) that have an excellent soft hand feel. However, these textiles are not durable enough to withstand abrasive loads caused by repeated passenger ingress and egress. Since the wool in such textiles is delicate, the textile can only be used in smaller areas that do not undergo repeated stress. Alternatively, durable textiles may be used in place of these premium textiles in other areas of the textile that are subject to high wear. However, these durable textiles typically do not look or feel as luxurious as natural fabrics, such as fine wool. One solution may include blending the fine wool with more durable yarns or fibers, but such resulting fabrics tend to be neither very durable nor very soft to the touch.”
The automaker claims to have found a solution.
According to the patent application, Tesla developed a new fabric architecture that is both soft to the touch and durable:
The fabric architecture according to the present disclosure introduces a load-bearing fabric that has a soft hand feel and can withstand varying loads applied thereon. The load-bearing fabric architecture includes a soft surface material and a support system. In an embodiment, the support system includes a frame and structural surface material that are connected to the soft surface material such that the soft surface material at least partially extends above the support system. The structural surface material are also connected to the frame. The support system provides support for loads that are applied on the soft surface material, such that on application of the load, the soft surface material moves downwards causing the structural surface material to contact with the load. The load-bearing fabric architecture has a soft hand feel due to the soft surface material that is made of wool. Further, the structural surface material, such as yarn, allows the fabric to withstand varying loads. Such load-bearing fabrics may be used in suspension textiles.
Here are some images released today as part of Tesla’s patent application:
Tesla has been using textile seating on and off as part of its interior options for a few years, but it has since mostly shifted to synthetic leather.
This new patent application could mean that the automaker is trying to bring back the option with a different material.
However, I’d note that some companies often file patents for technology and features that they never end up using. Time will tell.
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