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Opel Using Ergonomics to Combat European Driver Fatigue

August 19, 2014

The new Opel Insignia and Opel Meriva not only have modern technology under the hood, but are distinguished by AGR (Campaign for Healthier Backs) certified premium Opel ergonomic seats.

“Seats are veritable engineering masterpieces that include lightweight material, specific foam structures and numerous motors to carry out a multitude of tasks, such as heating and adjustments,” said Andrew Leuchtmann, Senior Manager GM Interiors, who is responsible for seat engineering. “Today, our seats are made to suit every size of person – tall, short, big, small – and this is critical to reduce fatigue on short or long trips.”

The very first Opel ergonomic seat was introduced with the Signum in 2003. Today, the ultra-modern and very popular Opel seats, which are the result of more than a dozen years of work and tight collaboration with the AGR (Campaign for Healthier Backs), an independent association that works on preventing back problems, can be ordered for many Opel models from Insignia, Meriva, Zafira Tourer to Astra, Mokka, and Cascada, according to the automaker. The seats are developed in-house and safety is a major requirement for Opel. Safety aspects include airbags, occupant sensors and seat-belt tensioners. All these functions ensure that drivers and passengers in Opel cars always reach their destination safely and comfortably.

Opel is the first volume manufacturer to receive the AGR stamp of approval for its seats. To achieve this, four basic ingredients are required: four-way lumbar support (forward, backwards, up and down), cushion tilt, cushion length adjustment, and contour and body support.

“We worked together and combined their know-how with ours,” said Leuchtmann. “In the early days, different manufacturers claimed their seats were the best, but fleet managers often received complaints from drivers suffering from back and other pain.”

Put simply, two-thirds of a person’s body should be in contact with the seat to avoid pressure points, which eventually translate into aches and discomfort. “Our seats,” Leuchtmann added, “can be enlarged or made smaller to provide an ideal fit for any driver.”

One of the more complex jobs seats have to do – apart from providing support – is to keep users warm or cool in different conditions. “The seat climate is very important as you need to ensure, that moisture generated by the occupant is removed. Integrated channels make fabrics breathable and remove this moisture. With ventilated seats, small fans are inserted that effectively help keep drivers cool and dry,” said Leuchtmann.

This system is available on the Insignia and Cascada. On the other hand, heating is also critical. “We heat nearly the entire seat surface,” Leuchtmann noted, which makes a considerable difference compared to systems that only heat parts of the seat.

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