Lightweight garage #23 PU-Kenaf composite material @ Toyota LQ

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Lightweight garage, News
©Don Harder, Toyota LQ Concept

The vehicle

At the Tokyo Motor Show in 2019, Toyota presented a new electric concept car: the Toyota LQ. The main feature of the LQ is the use of artificial intelligence to create an emotional connection between the vehicle and the driver, in particular by adapting the interior lighting, fragrancing or seat climate control to the driver's needs. The LQ is also equipped with automated driving functions.

However, we put on our lightweight construction glasses and take a look at an innovative material application that is the result of a collaboration between Toyota and the German materials manufacturer Covestro.

The technology

The material used in the door trim is a fiber-reinforced plastic composite (FRP) with a polyurethane (PU) matrix and kenaf fibers. The basis for the development of the composite material is Covestro's Baypreg® F NF technology, which is intended for the production of natural fiber-reinforced compression-molded components.

The second component of the composite material comes from South Asia. Kenaf is a tropical plant that belongs to the hibiscus genus and is cultivated in particular for fiber use.

©Rleo4Guido, CC BY-SA 4.0, Kenaf Plant, via Wikipedia Commons

The FRP has a low weight per unit area of approx. 1 kg/m², which significantly reduces the weight of the door panel. The use of renewable fibers makes the solution more sustainable than those in which conventional materials are used.

Natural fiber-reinforced plastics are also used in many other areas of the automotive industry. Other examples include dashboards, headliners and parcel shelves.

The lightweight aspect

According to the manufacturer, the use of PU-based FRP results in a weight saving of around 30% compared to door panels made from conventional materials.   

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