The Evolution Seat from Lear is just that: evolutionary. It will be the supplier's first seat to use seven patented technologies.
"There have been other Lear products that incorporate multiple patented technologies, but this is the first Lear seat offering to combine this many patented core technologies into a single seat solution," said Ryan Burns, Vice President of Product Engineering for Lear's Global Seating Operations.
Two of the technologies, Lear EVO Structure and ECO Padding, are new to the market in 2010.
ECO Padding is made from a fast-growth pine renewable resource "at approximately a 75% level, which includes significant sawmill waste. A small percent of edge trim (offal) is recycled during manufacture, and the entire product can be recycled back into new ECO Padding at end-of-life for the vehicle," explained Burns.
Lear's EVO Structure employs proprietary mass-optimization techniques. "This has changed the mechanics of how the structure functions, while still supporting all governmental and customer-specific requirements," said Burns.
The EVO Mini Recliner can save up to 35% in weight and up to 50% in packaging compared to a traditional recliner. A proprietary locking mechanism elicits the weight savings, and packaging has a slightly reduced diameter as well as half of the product thickness of a conventional recliner, according to Burns. The EVO Mini Recliner becomes part of the Evolution Seat in 2011.
In production since 1999, the active whiplash protection system is the oldest technology on the Evolution Seat. "Lear's ProTec PLuS uses the occupant's mass and motion to activate the anti-whiplash head restraint system," Burns said.
As an occupant's pelvis and lumbar regions move rearward in a rear vehicle impact, the system articulates the head restraint forward before the shoulders engage the upper portion of the seatback, "providing superior whiplash protection specifically when the occupant requires it the most," according to Burns.
The Evolution Seat also incorporates Lear's Dynamic Environmental Comfort System (DECS), SoyFoam, and recyclable expanded polypropylene (EPP).
Introduced on the Audi A2 in 2002, EPP's applications base has spread over the past eight years. "Engineers have used new techniques and processes to place the EPP in areas where it will provide significant benefit to the overall seat system—both in terms of mass reduction and increased durability," noted Burns.
DECS, in production since 2006, is a multilayer comfort system that provides support and long-term integrity between the seat frame and the occupant. It also creates shape and tactile feel on the seating surface upon occupant contact.
SoyFoam uses the oil from soybeans grown in the U.S. Since SoyFoam's debut in 2008, Lear has continued to increase the percentage of bio-based content. "We expect commercialization of our latest formulation by the end of the year," said Burns.
Having so many patented technologies on the Evolution Seat was not happenstance.
"We wanted to offer the OEMs the best technologies available in each of the core subsystems of a seat. Since the premium technologies in each subsystem are typically patent-protected, a combination of all premium technologies in all subsystems results in a final product containing multiple patents," said Burns.
The Evolution Seat will debut in the Asian market at the end of 2010.