Lightweight Garage #23 PU Kenaf Composite @ Toyota LQ

The Vehicle

At the Tokyo Motor Show in 2019, Toyota presented a new electric concept car: the Toyota LQ. A highlight of the LQ is the use of artificial intelligence to create an emotional connection between the vehicle and the driver. This should be achieved in particular by adapting the interior lighting, scenting or seat air-conditioning to the driver's needs. In addition, the LQ is equipped with automated driving functions.

However, we put on the lightweight glasses and look at an innovative material application that is a result of Toyota's collaboration with Covestro.

The Technology

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

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

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

The FKV has a low weight per unit area of approx. 1 kg/m², which results in a significant weight reduction of the door trim. The use of renewable fibers makes the solution more sustainable than those in which conventional materials are used.

Natural fibre reinforced plastics are also used in many other applications in the automotive industry. Other examples are dashboards, headliners or parcel shelves.

The Lightweighting Effect

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

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