Lightweight “green” foam, high comfort key factors in automotive seating
By Liz White
In automotive seating and interiors, suppliers are faced with increasingly complex and often conflicting demands. For example, seat makers
have to reduce weight, while keeping comfort at the very high levels that car makers, particularly the premium-brand German OEMs, expect, said Eugenio Toccalino, marketing manager for Dow Automotive, based in Schwalbach in Germany.
And Toccalino feels the urgency to reduce weight has stepped up a beat now, “driven both from this C02 regulation proposed for 2012 in Europe, and as well by fuel efficiency.” Added impetus here comes from soaring fuel prices, which are hitting consumers, not only in Europe but in North America as well,” he said.
So there is a strong drive towards lighter weight parts, and since seating systems represent almost 40 percent of the weight of a vehicle’s main interior components, “it’s clearly a major target,” Toccalino said.
For automotive seat maker Lear Corporation based in Southfield, Michigan, “environment is a big thing, so anything that improves the renewability or recyclability or safety of the product is of great importance to our customer,” commented Ash Galbraith, Lear’s director of advanced materials and comfort engineering. Here, renewable soya polyols from Lear also give very low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), “a very important aspect,” he said.
It is “seemingly becoming even…