Johnson Controls Inc. is trying to help automakers meet tougher CO2 regulations by making one of its core products – seats – as light as possible. Andreas Eppinger, JCI’s group vice president for technology management, believes that a 5kg weight reduction per front seat is “realistic” in the next five years. He spoke with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
Can the average weight in front seats be cut by 5kg in the next five years?
It depends on how the seat is equipped but for the standard components I see a weight reduction of 30 percent to 50 percent over the next few years. There are significant weight reductions coming. I would say the 5kg reduction is realistic.
This is per seat, right?
Yes, per front seat. It would be 5kg each.
Will the reduction come from the foam or the metal or elsewhere?
It’s mainly on the metal side. We use aluminum and high-strength steel as well as thinner materials. We also have improved certain component designs like our new recliner generation, which is significantly lighter. So each and every component is lighter.
What about the material mix? Is there more aluminum or more high-strength steel?
Seats face certain issues regarding crash tests. If we are in a heavy-load situation, typically on the seating side high-strength steel plays an important role, particularly thinner-walled steel. It’s thinner and lighter but with the same strength as previous generations.
What about carbon fiber in seats?
Today a lot of people are working on it but we do not see a big breakthrough in cost.
To achieve the CO2 goals automakers have to come up with new hybrid powertrain concepts, which are expensive. There is only a limited budget and that budget cannot all be spent on carbon fiber in seats.