AUBURN HILLS–If you’ve seen the all-new Lotus Emira, you’ll likely notice its dramatic exterior styling. The sleek exterior of this mid-engine premium sports car is made possible, in part, by the advanced composite exterior panels provided by Teijin Automotive Technologies. Specifically, Teijin Automotive Technologies is providing the right- and left-hand doors; right- and left-side rear quarter panels, and the inner, outer and lower shells of the tailgate.
The doors, rear quarter and tailgate outer panels are manufactured using the company’s proprietary TCA Ultra Lite material. This low-density, Class A surface material is up to 43 percent lighter than a traditional composite material, and approximately the same weight as aluminum. However, because it is a compression-molded composite, it can achieve dramatic styling cues not possible with a stamped metal and is dent and corrosion resistant. This material is being produced on the company’s compounding line in Pouancé, France.
Specific design cues include a sculpted section in the door that leads airflow toward the intake, which is molded into the rear quarter panel. This design serves a dual purpose, providing air intake and cooling for the engine bay.
“The body panels of the Lotus Emira had to satisfy a number of requirements including aerodynamic design and styling, but also have to be lightweight, strong and provide a high-quality Class A finish,” said Paul Tedstone, executive director of supply for Lotus Cars. “By using lightweight composites for the body panels, including the doors, we were able to combine all the engineering and styling requirements in the stunning design of this award-winning sports car.”
The inner panels for the tailgate are made from a structural grade, low-density SMC, featuring a glass fiber content optimized for strength. All outer panels are provided to Lotus with a conductive primer, and the interior tailgate panel is provided with a black texturized coating. All components are being manufactured at the Teijin Automotive Technologies plant in Leça do Balio, Portugal.
“To have the opportunity to be a part of this iconic vehicle brand, bringing an all-new, dynamic sports car to the market has been exciting for us,” said Chris Twining, CEO, Teijin Automotive Technologies. “Our Class A ultra-light composite materials enhance both the appearance and performance of this exotic-looking, premium vehicle.”
Teijin Automotive Technologies’ Ultra Lite technology uses proprietary, treated glass bubbles to replace some of the CaCO3, allowing the resin to adhere to the matrix and increase the interfacial strength between the bubble and the resin. This treatment technology results in a more robust resin mix making molded parts more resistant to handling damage, preventing micro-cracks that cause paint pops, pits and blistering, and improving paint adhesion and bonding characteristics.
Teijin Automotive Technologies develops and produces advanced composite components – including carbon and glass fiber – for the global automotive and transportation industries and is an integral part of the Teijin Group of companies. The company is a worldwide leader in composite formulations with a focus on providing automakers with lightweight, durable products that enable design and packaging flexibility. Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Teijin Automotive Technologies has 29 operations in 8 countries and employs more than 5,000 people. For more information, visit Teijinautomotive.com. Its parent company Teijin Group, was estaablished as Japan’s first rayon maker in 1918. It has composite operations in the automotive, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries, and also produces software and provides online entertainment services.