Lear Corporation (NYSE: LEA) today announced that it is to supply custom-designed, ultra-lightweight rear seats for the revolutionary, new 1.2-litre Audi A2, which will go into production by the end of the year. Compared to the basic 1.4-litre A2, a dramatic weight reduction of around 50 percent has been achieved for the rear seats through a combination of flexible design expertise and meticulous materials selection.

Lear made the announcement on the ultra-lightweight rear seats for the new 1.2-litre Audi A2 at the VISE & VIBEX 2000.

“This contract and advanced development is a testimony to Lear’s position as the world leader in automotive seating systems,” said Randall Carron, President – International Operations for Lear Corporation. “Meeting Audi’s expectations is a number one priority for us, and achieving this requirement from Audi has proven, once again, that our team of multi-disciplinary engineers are truly world class.”

An exhaustive engineering effort lies behind this development success. The lightweight concept was developed using an aluminum variant as the basic construct rather than conventional steel. Lear and Audi engineers created a process of gluing and riveting aluminum profiles to an aluminum sandwich sheet to join them.

“These rear seats from Lear are probably the lightest in the world,” said Hans Osenstatter, Vice President and General Manager of Lear’s Customer Service Center for Audi in Gaimersheim, Germany. “Lear accepted the technical challenge of designing and producing rear seats in aluminum. We took this challenge further. Every single gram of this seating system has been evaluated to see if it really needed to be there,” he added.

“The elimination of superfluous material reduced the weight even more which is what makes these seats so uniquely lightweight, but we also carefully selected lightweight foam that would provide both comfort and weight savings,” said Dr. Klaus Bos, Director – Engineering, Lear’s Premium Car Division Customer Service Center for Audi in Gaimersheim.

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Superlight expanded polypropylene foam was chosen to provide cushioned seating comfort. A cavity between the aluminum seat back and the foam was created to achieve weight savings that ultimately resulted in the lightest seating system Lear has ever developed for a production vehicle.

The seats, developed in Ingolstadt, will be produced by Lear in Besigheim, Germany near Stuttgart, adjacent to the Audi assembly plant to allow just-in- time delivery – a prerequisite for automotive seats.

The Audi A2’s complete trunk compartment, including floor, side parts and rear panel, also are being provided by Lear. Lear also supplies seat systems and other parts for the Audi A6, A8 and TT, as well as headliners for the A3, A4 and A6.

Lear Corporation, a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Southfield, Mich., USA, is one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers with record 1999 sales of $12.4 billion. The company’s world-class products are designed, engineered and manufactured by more than 120,000 employees in over 300 facilities located in 33 countries. Information about Lear and its products is available on the Internet at www.lear.com .