Toyoda Gosei Co., Ltd. has developed large plastic roof panels that will be used on a fuel cell bus to be launched by Toyota Motor Corporation in 2018. More than 100 of these buses will be put into use in the Tokyo metropolitan region as it readies for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Plastic panels have the advantage of being lighter than metal, but have suffered from inferior strength. Toyoda Gosei has developed a plastic material that can be made thinner while also improving impact and heat resistance, making them suitable for use on vehicle exteriors and contributing to weight reduction.
In addition to the new material, the company also relied on its technology for high precision molding that gives a consistent thickness to large parts. These roof panels will be installed above the fuel cell stacks and high pressure hydrogen tanks, with a structure that allows them to be opened and closed for inspections and other purposes.
Toyoda Gosei has previously developed and produced many different large precision plastic parts, such as radiator grilles. Electric and fuel cell vehicles are expected to come into wider use in the coming years, and as demands for longer cruising ranges increase, Toyoda Gosei will take advantage of the plastic material and molding technologies to meet needs for lighter weight vehicle bodies.
Established in 1949, Toyoda Gosei is a leading specialty manufacturer of rubber and plastic automotive parts and LEDs.