Evenflo Co. Inc. of Vandalia, Ohio, took a fresh approach in creating high-end car seats with significant plastic content.
The maker of baby-care and juvenile products explored car-seat upgrades beginning in mid-1999 and, two years later, introduced the Triumph 5 convertible and Apollo booster models.
Each of the new designs has a smooth exterior shell of molded polypropylene instead of exposed plastic ribs that can snag an automobile's fabric.
Evenflo used polyurethane foam and polyester fiber in soft ComfortTouch padding for a child's resting positions and incorporated five-point HeightRight and MemoryHarness adjusters to improve on positioning systems vs. competing products. A prominent yellow TensionRight knob in front allows for easy harness adjustments, and the system remembers tension settings. Molded devices help position the shoulder belt and harness.
Ideo's Palo Alto, Calif., design and product development office conducted engineering research for Evenflo on human design factors and seat and belt installation techniques.
The Triumph costs about $120 at retail with an upscale OshKosh-brand Triumph going for $130. The Apollo lists for about $80.
The new designs minimize use of metal.
``Most of the content in all child car seats today is plastic,'' said Randy Kiser, engineering director for Evenflo's car-seat team.
``In the last decade, we've seen old steel-tube seats drop out and be replaced by plastic shells,'' Kiser said. The industry has used plastic to reduce weight and take out cost.