Makers are boosting comfort and functionality, and strengthening health benefits.
China suppliers of car seat covers are enhancing aesthetics and functionality. These strategies are aimed at widening selections and spurring sales dented by a 10 percent decline in overseas shipments of some product variants.
|This set of car seat covers from Shenzhen A.T.R. is made of PU and velvet.|
Many makers are highlighting classic designs in polyester or PU with sponge or cotton padding. Patterns in double hues are popular, with one color in the middle and another for the left and right sides.
Aside from protecting car seats, covers are increasingly developed as decor for vehicle interiors. Assorted hues, patterns and embellishments are employed, including fur accents on the shoulder areas.
Logos are printed or embroidered onto several pieces. Customized designs are available. The 625117 and 625118 models from Autoline International Trading Co. Ltd have gecko and flower patterns, respectively, which may push up prices 10 to 15 percent.
Some suppliers employ two kinds of materials, one in the middle and another for the two sides, to heighten visual appeal. Shenzhen A.T.R. Industry Co. Ltd, for instance, combined PU and velvet in the 12176 model and added thick padding for improved support.
For additional seat protection and easier maintenance, several companies provide water- and dirt-resistant variants. Made of 300d oxford, the 1302# model from Taizhou Chengpeng Auto Accessory Fty is an example of such designs.
In the midrange and high end, the latest releases boast health benefits. These items are typically made of natural materials such as cotton, flax and bamboo, and stuffed with two or three kinds of herbs or dried flowers. Cassia and hawthorn seeds, buckwheat hulls and jasmine flowers are some of the common fillings.
Magnet stones can also be inserted into the cover or mounted on the surface. These help improve blood circulation, alleviate fatigue and massage the back.
Some upscale versions in specially processed bamboo fabric are packed with natural minerals that absorb noxious air and unpleasant smell.
Models with health benefits can be two times more expensive than basic types. Further, most have yet to be exported in large volumes.
Makers are exploring emerging markets such as Africa and Southeast Asia to help boost sales. Nevertheless, the US is still the top shipment destination, followed by Japan, South Korea, the EU and the Middle East.
Many large suppliers remain confident of stable exports and output for the rest of 2011.
China offers packages of six to 12 pieces, including front and rear, headrest, steering wheel and seat-belt covers. Generally designed for 4 or 5-seater vehicles, their sizes range from M to XL.
More than 70 percent of output is made of synthetic fabric such as PU and polyester, while 20 percent comes in cotton. Genuine leather and bamboo models with filling account for the rest.
Across the different types, car seat cover prices went up by 5 to 15 percent this year due to increasing raw material costs. Polyester, for example, hit $2,700 per ton in July, 14 percent higher than November 2010. Rates for 21S cotton yarn peaked at $5,120 per ton in July, 8 percent lower than March levels but still 17 percent more than 2010 figures.
Synthetic fabric covers: Polyester and PU are the most common materials in this segment. For the former, velvet and suede are among the types adopted.
Models employ solid-colored or patterned textiles with embroidered patterns or logos. Hues can be customized, but black, gray, blue, red, brown and ivory are widely popular.
Going for $5 to $10 per set, low-end designs consist of six to 10 pieces that include hats, and front and rear seat covers. Such releases use one or two solid-colored fabrics, which may have cartoon images or word logos. Some also feature 2mm-thick sponge padding.
Midrange kinds, quoted from $11 to $35, include nine to 18 pieces comprising neck cushions, and steering wheel, seat- belt, gear and rearview mirror covers. These versions adopt one to three solid-colored or patterned fabrics, and feature designs more complicated than basic variants. Others have waist cushions mounted on back covers.
Upscale covers list at $70 or more per set and employ high-end PU or viscose. Covers made of the latter often boast handwoven patterns, and several are padded with a thick layer of regular or PP cotton or sponge suitable for winter. Some releases in this category target 7-seater SUVs.
Covers made partly or completely of sandwich mesh is also popular, particularly in the low end and midrange. The material has three layers of polyester mesh on the surface, sponge in the middle and nonwoven cloth at the bottom. Its thickness varies from 3 to 4mm. A package for a 5-seater car weighs about 3kg.
Models in strengthened microfiber PU leather, which looks like genuine leather variants, is available in the high end. A set ranges from $80 to $150.
For water-resistant covers, PVC and nylon types are the options. These are available from $2 to $4 each.
Natural fabric covers: Products in this category employ cotton, flax or bamboo. Lycra is added to some models to improve elasticity. Gray, beige, cream, ivory and light green are the dominant colors.
Releases made of domestically sourced materials are $7 to $40 per set and contain six to 10 pieces. A package of nine to 18 covers in imported inputs goes up to $70, while embroidered kinds start at $9.
Models in natural fabrics stuffed with two orthree kinds of herbs or dried flowers are available starting at $30 per set and can exceed $90.
Genuine leather covers: Priced from $110 to $350, options in this line are generally positioned as high-end products. Mainstream pieces come in black, gray, brown, red or ivory.
Domestically sourced yellow cattle or buffalo hide is widely used, although imported alternatives are sometimes employed for upscale models. The leather thickness ranges from 1.0 to 1.3mm.
Note: This article "Design, material variety enrich car seat cover lineup" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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