In January, Toyota released the GRMN version of the Toyota GT86, the Japan-only special edition honed especially for the racetrack. While it is indisputably beautiful, and the performance gives serious competition to other race-cars in its class, few saw that it went beyond looks and performance to become a test bed for new lightweight glazing technology.
The first production vehicle in the world to feature rear quarter windows made from polycarbonate material coated with a new plasma-based resin, the GRMN has broken boundaries and now offers incredible possibilities for the future of commercial car production. What makes these polycarbonate windows so unique is the resin that coats them; it forms an extremely tough, thermoplastic window with the optical clarity of glass.
As polycarbonate windows are around 50 per cent lighter than glass, the weight reduction on mass-produced cars would have huge impacts on the aerodynamic handling and the fuel economy of the vehicles, promising a wealth of new possibilities for future cars. Polycarbonate also has a much higher impact resistance than glass, making it popular in motorsport, and providing higher levels of safety on the road.
Until now, polycarbonate windows have been unable to meet global regulations for driver visibility, as the untreated material offers inferior clarity to glass. Coated in the new plasma-based resin however, all that changes. The resin allows the visibility to improve so that it mimics the quality of glass, and can officially be trialled as a lighter, safer alternative.
For now, Toyota will trial a low-volume special edition production of 100 cars, hoping to expand the use of this coated polycarbonate into mass production. With possible weight reductions of up to 20kg per car, it certainly seems to be the way forward for manufacturers.
A new horizon of possibilities are opened up too, as the polycarbonate is shaped by injection moulding, meaning glazing in the future could be shaped with precise specifications, and even integrate aerodynamic features such as spoilers and airflow separators. This pioneering technology shows just how valuable constantly pushing boundaries both on and off the racetrack is, and points to a future of limitless innovations.
If you want to get behind the wheel of the GT86 in preparation for the new innovations, head over to Lancaster Toyota to book your test drive today!