BASF and Toyota Motor North America Research & Development have achieved lightweighting success with the new 2021 Toyota Sienna.
The vehicle, scheduled to launch later this year, just won the prestigious Altair Enlighten Award for achievements in vehicle weight savings for reduced mass of the third row seat. In the previous model, the third-row seat was comprised of 15 different steel components, making it very heavy. Toyota wanted the 2021 Sienna’s third seat to be lighter and cost competitive while exceeding all performance criteria. Toyota turned to BASF to help them achieve their lightweighting goal.
Todd Muck, from the Toyota Technical Strategic Planning Office at the Toyota R&D Center, US, said: “Lightweighting doesn’t always have to be more expensive. We were able to meet our cost objective and saved 15 per cent compared to the prior generation. The seat is 30 per cent lighter compared to the previous model. We had some great partnerships that helped us achieve these targets, one of which was BASF.”
Toyota also wanted an injection moulding part that was a ‘shoot-and-ship’ part – i.e. made in one piece, without complex and costly post-processing. BASF used its unique 35 per cent glass-reinforced and impact-modified PA6 grade Ultramid B3ZG7 CR, and its proprietary computer aided engineering (CAE) tool ULTRASIM, which enables accurate CAE simulations during the multiple phases of development.
Matt Parkinson, Manager Applications Development Engineering and Composite Technologies, BASF Performance Materials, added: “The third seat design is what I 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. 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.”