Lightweighting is a key focus area for automotive manufacturers and OEMs in light of the importance given to fuel efficiency. As part of this drive, Adient which is one of the leading automotive seating suppliers has developed several innovative lightweight seating solutions which do not affect passenger safety or comfort using alternative materials and composites.
Over the past 10 years, Adient has reduced the weight of the seats it supplies to leading car manufacturers by 20 to 30 percent. The company’s goal is to reduce the weight of standard seat structures by 22 pounds by 2020. In order to achieve this goal, Adient has taken up a multi-material approach, and is investigating the viability of materials like glass, magnesium, high-strength steel, carbon fiber-reinforced plastics and aluminum for this purpose.
Dr. Detlef Juerss, vice president engineering and CTO at Adient said that in future, car seats will increasingly become multi-function supports having a wide range of electronic adjustments and technical equipment. The Adient team is working on combining these technical innovations with making seats that are lighter, safe and of the highest quality.
Magnesium for strong, lightweight seat structures
At the recent NAIAS show in Detroit, Adient showcased a multi-material lightweight seat that was fashioned from die-cast magnesium.
Juerss said that magnesium is the lightest when it comes to structural materials. It is 75 percent lighter than steel and 33 percent lighter than aluminum while offering excellent strength-to-weight ratio, good dimensional stability and flexible construction
Front seats with composite elements
Adient also used the show to exhibit a glass fiber–reinforced plastic front seat backrest concept which helped to reduce weight by up to 30 percent with its slim and modular design that is suitable for all seat platforms. It also offers a high level of passenger protection and offers more room for passengers.
Lightweight rear seats with great user-friendly flexibility
Other innovative ideas include flexible seats for the second row which incorporate integrated safety belts and rails recessed into the floor. When compared to conventional rear seats, this seat used aluminum and high tensile steel to reduce weight by seven kilograms.
Adient has a premium brand called Recaro Automotive Seating, which draws on the company’s expertise in motorsports.
The all-new Recaro Performance Seat Platform (RPSP) has two applications which attest to Recaro’s lightweight approach. The first is “reduced to the max” version while the second is a demonstrator having advanced features and design innovations like a visible, carbon fiber-braided backrest structure, which is meant for the top luxury segment.
Such designs will allow more space for vehicle interiors, thanks to the body-shaped composite seat structure and thin IntelliTech foam. Te foam which is light, rigid and flexible can easily integrate attachments for the complete seat application including spacers, optional ventilation, etc. Thus, it can reduce weight up to 40 percent and is 50 percent thinner (8mm) compared to standard polyurethane foam.
The new limited-edition aftermarket shell seat Recaro Pole Position SL (SL for street-legal) is a slim, one-piece shell seat made of glass fiber-reinforced plastic (GRP) that provides perfect lateral and shoulder support at highest comfort levels. The shell weighs approximately 7 kilograms (without side mount and base frame), and its carbon derivative is only 4.5 kilograms, which makes it the lightest street legal shell seat globally.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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