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November 25, 2005

UK: Car seat revolution gets Lotus thumbs-up

Lotus has adopted a car seat design that claims to improve comfort while saving manufacturers money and weight, writes Andrew Charman.

Lotus has adopted a car seat design that claims to improve comfort while saving manufacturers money and weight, writes Andrew Charman.

ProBax, developed by UK specialist NuBax Ltd, consists simply of a specially-shaped foam insert within the seat. It encourages an occupant to sit more upright with a straighter spine, combating potential back problems and increasing blood flow from the legs towards the brain, which improves concentration and battles fatigue on long journeys. The inserts can be applied to any seat without modifications to the frame, and allow the manufacturer to discard traditional lumbar adjustment mechanisms, with obvious weight and cost savings.

Unveiling the system at the Transport Research Laboratory NuBax CEO Ian Moore revealed that five car manufacturers were currently assessing ProBax, while Lotus has adopted it as a standard fitment on the 2006 Elise and Exige. “We chose Lotus because we only had 12mm of seat foam to play with,” Moore said; “if it works here it will work in any car.”

Lotus engineering head Steve Swift said that extensive tests of ProBax involving people of various shapes and sizes had produced impressive improvements; “Removing the pre-existing lumbar mechanism has helped reduce weight, vital for Lotus. This also increases the amount of useable space in the cockpit, and lowers item costs.”

Journalists attending the launch event drove Lotus cars fitted with traditional and ProBax seats, and underwent blood flow tests. Once used to the initially strange-feeling new seat your correspondent found it comfortable, while according to the monitor blood flow to the brain increased by 20 per cent.

With back pain currently costing Britain’s health service almost £500 million each year, NuBax predicts wide applications outside the motoring market for its technology, in offices, schools and particularly airliners where it can counter the widely-publicised health threat of DVT.

Andrew Charman

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