Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bald Spot Sports & Dorel Partner in Joint Research Venture To Develop New, Safer Materials For Child Car Seats

Dorel to use racing tech in child car seats

Thursday, May 26, 2011

MONTREAL -- Dorel Industries Inc. is looking to rev up its business with new child car seats that use impact-absorbing materials and technology borrowed from the world of professional race-car driving.

Montreal-based Dorel is partnering with racing gear provider Bald Spot Sports of Indiana in a joint research venture to develop new, safer configurations and materials for child car seats.

The companies will research materials and designs similar to those used in Formula 1 and IndyCar cockpit crash protection, according to an announcement expected to be made today at Dorel's annual meeting.

Dorel could use some new-product development to help boost its performance.

It posted an 18-per-cent drop in first-quarter profit earlier this month, missing analysts' expectations in a still-difficult retail environment made worse by rising gasoline and food prices that have hit consumers' pocketbooks.

The company operates in three key consumer segments: bicycles, juvenile products and home furnishings. The bicycle business did well in the first quarter but that was offset by a "challenging retail environment" for the U.S. juvenile products division, Dorel chief executive officer Martin Schwartz said about the results.

The car-seat safety research is to be conducted at Dorel subsidiary Dorel Juvenile Group USA's new technical centre for child safety located at its car-seat manufacturing facility in Columbus, Ind.

Engineers from Dorel Juvenile will draw on Bald Spot's motorsport safety research and development to figure out the best way to integrate the company's proprietary technology and race-car cockpit crash materials into child car seats, according to Dorel.

Bald Spot makes seats for professional race car drivers and enthusiasts. It uses a specially designed foam material that surrounds the driver and holds him or her in place during impact, thus reducing the likelihood of injury.

Among Bald Spot products users are IndyCar and NASCAR Nationwide motorsport drivers.

Of particular interest to Dorel is the potential for Bald Spot's foam material to absorb side-impact forces, the company said.

Dorel, the world's largest maker of children's car seats, has also been taking steps to expand outside North America.

The company's juvenile brands include Cosco, Eddie Bauer, Safety 1st, Maxi-Cosi, Quinny and Lux.