Creating a Strong, Comfortable Cruise

Although mixed-material applications are increasing in the automotive industry largely due to the 2025 fuel efficiency standards, manufacturers are building on these composite advancements in other industries, including marine.

Toyota’s Ponam-28V

The hull of Toyota’s Ponam-28V sports cruiser combines three structural components in the hull – GFRP, CFRP and aluminum. Photo Credit: Toyota Motor Corp.

In late 2016, Toyota launched a new sports cruiser, the Ponam-28V, a commercial version of a concept vehicle that had received the Good Design Award in 2016. Crucial to achieving the expected high-cruising performance and riding comfort is the Toyota Hybrid Hull, developed jointly with Yanmar Co. Ltd., a manufacturer of FRP boats and other products.

While aluminum hulls offer high rigidity, Toyota found those used in earlier versions of its sports cruiser could only be produced in limited quantities due to the advanced machining technology required for manufacturing. Therefore the company began to look into alternatives. Unlike in the automotive industry, Toyota found that integrating composites in marine applications could be pivotal in increasing production runs.

The manufacturer set performance targets for the hybrid hull based on the high-performance standards set by existing aluminum hulls. To meet such high targets, Toyota reviewed the FRP hull’s fundamental construction, a Toyota spokesperson reports. The end result is a sandwich structure that incorporates a combination of a FRP, aluminum and carbon fiber.