DEARBORN – His name is Oscar. He has nothing to do with that little statue passed out each spring in Hollywood, but his work can help drivers and passengers of Lincoln vehicles feel like a star.
Oscar is a steel mannequin, and his job is to help Lincoln seats shine by combining softness, contour and firmness in every seat throughout the vehicle – driver, front passenger and rear passengers.
“All of the things we’re doing with the firmness of the seat systems, underlying structure, materials, technology and adjustable features allow the customers to be able to sit in the vehicles comfortably for a long duration,” said Mike Kolich, Lincoln seating comfort engineer. “At Lincoln we make a conscious effort to ensure that more of that long-term element is not compromised.”
The seat surfaces in Lincoln MKS and MKZ sedans and MKT crossover are provided by the Bridge of Weir leather company. Sourced from Scotland, Bridge of Weir leather also can be found in luxury jets, yachts and furniture. Connoisseurs of fine materials appreciate Bridge of Weir leathers for their natural beauty, and the company uses a unique organic tanning method which produces leather free of chromium – making it one of the most environmentally friendly (and fully recyclable) leathers available.
“We have the highest grade possible of leather-front to second row,” said Kolich. “It’s really rare to find that high-quality leather in automotive applications.
“The rich materials are supple, natural and inviting and the seating embraces them and connects them to their own personal driving experience.
In addition to the “guilt-free luxury” leather available on the seats, biofoams are also a part of the materials used throughout Lincoln vehicles.
The seat cushions, head restraints and seat backs are made with soy foam, which have a lower environmental impact than petroleum-based foams. In addition, the soy-based materials deliver excellent performance and offer equivalent comfort and durability.
“Our customers care about the environment and sustainability is a big initiative for us. So, all of our Lincoln seats today and going forward have soy foam” said Kolich. “Our research team has done a tremendous job coming up with formulations that work. They’ve found ways through chemistry to mix soy oil with conventional oil to create foam that delivers the same great performance and feel, but is environmentally conscious.”
The contour and shape of Lincoln seats are crucial and allow sufficient space for a wide range of Lincoln drivers.
“The shape of our seats would allow a smaller customer, a medium-sized customer or a larger customer to fit comfortably,” said Kolich.
The DNA infused into Lincoln seating engineering not only gives all of the vehicle’s occupants a luxury experience with fine materials but also amenities usually restricted for those in the front of the vehicle.
“We’ve also incorporated some technology in the MKT, for example, that you would typically only find in the first rows of luxury vehicles and we've incorporated them into the second row,” says Kolich. “So, climate control, heated and cooled seats in the second row is an option.”
Kolich and his team utilize several tests to quantify seating comfort and ensure that Lincoln seats are of the highest standard and to streamline development time. Tests are performed in the virtual world so that design and engineering changes can be implemented accurately and immediately.
Based on the data, one or two physical prototypes are built and tested at research.
“We effectively shorten the product development time for Lincoln so that we can get it to the customer faster,” said Kolich.