Teijin Automotive Technologies, formerly Continental Structural Plastics, will manufacture the pickup boxes for the 2022 Toyota Tundra pickup truck.
Toyota redesigned the Tundra from the ground up for the 2022 model year, incorporating a sheet molding compound composite box for the first time, Steve Harmon, engineering director at Teijin, told Plastics News.
Using the composite materials instead of traditional steel is “a cost-effective way to get about a 20 percent mass reduction over typical steel boxes,” Harmon said.
“We can make one of these boxes in one piece, so there’s a lot of part integration we can achieve and reduce a lot of seams and welds and other assembly work that has to go into a typical steel or aluminum box,” he said. “It results in a much more attractive-looking part as well because it is very consistent on the inside; we can grain the surface.”
The SMC box also won’t rust or corrode over time like a steel or aluminum box could, he added.
The material is the same that Teijin has used for production of the Toyota Tacoma pickup box for almost two decades, Harmon said.
“It was a material Toyota was familiar with and understood what it could offer in terms of capabilities,” he said.
The company has produced more than 2 million composite pickup boxes for the Tacoma program, a June 7 news release said.
Teijin began production of the Tundra pickup boxes in November 2021 at its new facility in Seguin, Texas, the release said.
“The molding and assembly process used by the team at Seguin closely mimics that used by Teijin at its facility in Tijuana, Mexico, where it has been manufacturing the pickup boxes for the Toyota Tacoma since 2004,” it said.
The high-strength thermoset formulation of sheet molding compound has a high glass content for a “high degree of stiffness,” Harmon said. The glass also adds dimensional stability.
“If we tried to use a thermoplastic material here, such a large part would tend to grow and shrink just from the heat of the sun,” he said.