A collaboration effort between BASF and Toyota Motor North America Research & Development has resulted in an award-winning lightweighting success. The new 2021 Toyota Sienna scheduled to launch later this year has been presented with the prestigious Altair Enlighten Award for achievements in vehicle weight savings, for reduced mass of the third-row seat.
Previously, the third-row seat was comprised of 15 different steel components, making it very heavy. Toyota now aimed for a lighter design, that would be cost-effective and exceed all performance criteria - ideally, an injection moulded ‘shoot-and-ship’ part, meaning one made in one piece, without complex and costly post-processing.
In search of a solution, the company turned to BASF.
BASF used its 35% glass-reinforced and impact-modified polyamide PA6 grade Ultramid B3ZG7 CR, and its proprietary computer-aided engineering (CAE) tool ULTRASIM, which allowed for accurate CAE simulations during the multiple phases of development efforts.
The collaboration resulted in a seat that is 30% lighter compared to the previous model.
The design, said Matt Parkinson, Manager Applications Development Engineering and Composite Technologies, BASF Performance Material, is what he would classify as an ‘enabling technology’.
“It is the first of its kind in the way it is designed without inserts as a fully injected seat back,” he explained.
“One of the challenges was to ensure a high elongation and impact qualities for the crash requirements. At the same time, we focused on strength and stiffness because the seat also serves as a load floor.”
“We were able to meet our cost objective and saved 15% compared to the prior generation,” said Todd Muck, from the Toyota Technical Strategic Planning Office at the Toyota R&D Center in Saline, Michigan.
“We had some great partnerships that helped us achieve these targets, one of which was BASF.