The European Association of Automotive Suppliers has recognized Johnson Controls, a Tier 1 automotive supplier with operations in Plymouth Township, with a Green Innovation Award for cutting vehicle seat weight by more than 40 percent by replacing traditional metals with multi-material systems.
“Although carbon-fiber products generally offer outstanding characteristics, such as great strength and design flexibility, they are too expensive for use in the large-scale series production of vehicles,” says Andreas Eppinger, group vice president of technology management at Johnson Controls Automotive Experience. “With (this research project), our goal was to create cost-efficient, sustainable access to carbon fiber-based materials systems.”
To reach its goal, Johnson Controls used an industrial manufacturing process with about 200,000 units per production line, which allowed for the highly concentrated, efficient use of carbon fiber, Eppinger says.
He adds that the results of an initial rear-impact crash test demonstrated that the seat prototype satisfied all of the strength requirements of current seats built with a metal structure in large-scale series production.
Additionally, the manufacturing steps required in the assembly process was reduced through the number of attachment parts needed, which also saves on costs, Eppinger says.
According to the European Association of Automotive Suppliers awards jury, the project represents an “outstanding, future-oriented solution for sustainable carbon dioxide reduction.”
The seats will be available in vehicles in 2019.