Consumer demands have continually increased in all aspects of automotive interior design. The automobile cabin has become an extension of their personality. Styling, comfort, and functionality are important factors that consumers use when deciding to purchase a vehicle. Automotive companies consider these factors when developing new vehicles.
Designers are increasing the functionality of the seat system to meet the demands of the consumer. As a result, seats that fold forward, slide, and fold down have become commonplace. These seats have the ability to dramatically change the utility of the cabin. This is achieved through the use of additional mechanisms and structures. However, these changes have increased seat system mass.
With the recent rise in fuel costs, consumers have become ever more conscious of fuel economy when considering purchasing vehicles. Expanded polypropylene foam (EPP; P-BLOCK®/ARPRO®) has structural and energy absorbing mechanical properties that are applicable for use in automotive exteriors and interiors and is an effective material to help reduce weight. The use of EPP not only improves fuel economy, but also enhances impact performance, safety and vehicle kinematics. The application of EPP for flexible rear seat systems is discussed in this paper.