A special waterproof sheet can cover an entire car to protect it from flooding. (Video by Takashi Miyazawa)

TOYOHASHI, Aichi Prefecture--As televised images showed submerged cars on streets and in parking lots from a recent series of torrential rain and flooding, a newly developed fine-mesh car cover started attracting increased attention and sales.

Mesh filter maker Clever here developed the sheet to cover an entire vehicle, so it can survive immersion when the owner is unable to drive it to a safe location.

If submerged in floodwater, cars become inoperable as their electrical systems and engines suffer major damage.

Marketed by Clever in August 2017, the car cover features a fine mesh structure with holes of a hundred-thousandth of a millimeter as well as a fluorine coating, a technology often used to protect the surface of frying pans from burning.

The material is sewn with special threads whose outside can be melted even at lower temperatures. The sheet is beaten during the sewing process so the outside of the threads will be melted and pinholes filled.

As the sewn part is covered by the same waterproof sheet, the finished cover can block not only water but vapors.

Although prices start from as high as about 100,000 yen ($899), luxury car owners and others already bought 500 sheets within a year after the product’s release.

Tsuyoshi Nakagawara, 38, president of Clever, said his firm hit upon the idea of the watertight cover when a complaint came in from a user of a face mask that “their eyeglass lenses steam up when wearing the mask.”

“A waterproof material was adopted for the part of masks beside the nose so moisture will not affect the lenses,” Nakagawara said. “The idea of the anti-flooding product was hit upon when considering how to utilize the waterproof material.”

The technology came to fruition when a 0.1-mm-thick sheet to protect shutters and entrance doors from the intrusion of water was developed and marketed in 2016 jointly with Toyohashi city’s firefighting department.

The product is permeable to air while water cannot pass through it, and repeated fluorine treatment makes the sheet difficult to tear. Those features allows the sheet to prevent submergence of buildings better than a method using sandbags.

The watertight sheet is also helpful in protecting large objects that cannot be carried with evacuees at times of flooding, so an anti-water bag for large liquid crystal TVs and other electronics has been developed as well.

The latest car cover is based on the same technology as the protective sheet and bag.

The box-shaped product can cover the entire body of a vehicle and has a U-shaped zipper at its upper section. Once accustomed to the practice, one can install the cover in a minute or so.

The automobile cover can be used more than once, while an accelerated aging test has showed its useful life at around 10 years, according to Clever officials.

The automobile sheet is made to order with the size differing depending on the type of car to be covered. A sheet for a compact car, for example, measuring 1.7 meters wide, 3.5 meters long and 1.8 meters high, sells for 99,800 yen after tax.

When Clever began producing covers for larger vehicles in July, it received an inquiry from a medical center that hopes to use the product to protect its mobile health screening vehicles and helicopters, according to the officials.

Clever is planning to increase the number of fluorine treatments so its future products will have a higher strength and improved water-repellent ability.

For more information on the car cover, visit the company’s shopping website at (http://www.nippon-clever.co.jp/lp/mizupita-lp.html).