Tesla Motors wants to reinvent seat upholstery by eliminating seams.
The Silicon Valley-based automaker recently filed a patent for Skin-Foam, a new way of upholstering seats in which vinyl is molded or fused directly to a foam cushion.
“As you could imagine, this would greatly simplify the production process for a seat, given how covers would no longer need to be sewn together and fitted over the cushioning,” writes Motor Trend. “It might also make for a cool-looking seat; as Tesla points out in the patent, the seams on today’s seats ‘may be unsightly.'”
Of course, molded seat covers aren’t entirely new. “Skin-foam seats are typically used in non-premium seating, such as construction vehicle seats, or small seats (for example, bicycle seats),” Tesla said in its patent filing.
“But these do not provide significant comfort,” the automaker added. Tesla aims to recast the old technology to create “plush-feeling vehicle seating.”
In the patent filing, Tesla says it could mold vinyl directly over a seat cushion, similar to how automakers vacuum form dashboards. The automaker also says spray-on upholstery is an option.
Either way, Tesla clearly has it in for the craft of auto upholstery.
To learn more about Tesla’s skin-foam patent filing, visit Motor Trend.
What this really does is make the seat repair capability proprietary as well. No trim shop would be able to repair a damaged panel or re cover a seat. The customer would have to replace the entire seat at a high dealer cost. Auto manufacturers are already doing this with intricate perforation patterns and embossed inserts. Tesla will make more money on seat replacements than they will save in the production phase.
Don Franzini says
Some of the Tesla’s are already ridiculous to remove the seating….poor material strength… stitch failures….. we have had to remove the seat covers while leaving the seats bolted in the car
Bob morgan says
Reading the Mt article points out that they will spray the vinyl finish…. so leather is out? Buying a luxury car without leather sounds crazy to me. I think ole Elon is spending too much time thinking about his space aspirations.
Still can be covered. Will be a full interior vs a panel repair.
I agree with Mike and it’ll take some refiguring to make full covers that stay in place and are affordable.
Derek Wiltshire says
How can anyone claim a patent on something they say is already being done, just not in the car industry???
This reminds me of the late 1980’s – 1990’s Chevy and GMC pickup seats. They were partially sewn covers glued directly to molded foam. At the time we had an account with a local Chevy dealer, when seats needed repair it was a complete replacement with dealer only foam+cover parts. Sometimes installed by one of their mechanics. It made cigarette burns very costly.