Seat Swap Project Has Begun - Chevy Bolt EV Forum
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post #1 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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Post Seat Swap Project Has Begun

I've experienced something in my Bolt this weekend that I've never experienced before.... Feeling comfortable in the driver's seat.

I kicked off my seat swap project by mocking up the most likely donor seat at this point from a 2015 VW Jetta Trendline. These are seats that I know I can spend literally days in, have similar layout and features to the OEM Bolt seats, and are readily available.

I started by pulling the seats out of both cars, measuring up the mounting patterns for each, and then blasting together a couple VERY quick and dirty adapter plates out of 3/4" plywood. Combined that with some longer bolts, I was able to physically test the fitment of the Jetta seat in the Bolt. All in all it went pretty smoothly with the only physical issue being the inboard seatbelt mounting point just interfering with the center console. By shifting the belt inboard of the bracket and tweaking the bracket just a touch I will be able to get the clearance i need there. Plenty of room on the outboard side. One other minor issue that I ran into was the inboard seat bottom cushion squishing up a bit against the center console when the seat is moved all the way forward. Not concerned there as there is plenty of give in the seat foam to allow full travel. AND it does the same thing in the Jetta the way it came from the factory. If I decide to recover the new seats in leather there is a possibility of the seat squeaking against the console, but that'll only happen if a shorty drives the car Cloth won't be a problem at all.

Once the seat was bolted in and I adjusted it to my liking I instantly felt like this is how the car was supposed to feel. The seat was the correct scale for me, AND it was more centered between the armrest in the door and the center arm rest which improved ergonomics. As a bonus the seat bottom was angled a little more which put a bit more bend in my legs and allowed me to sit a little closer to the steering wheel to improve the reach comfort. Because I was aware that the center of the seat had shifted slightly outboard I could see that I was now slightly off-center of the instrument cluster, but it didn't bother me in the least and I don't believe that the average person would even notice unless it was pointed out to them. Long story short, it felt amazing and really encouraged me to get this project rolling.

My next goals will be to find a good automotive upholstery shop and find out what it would cost to have the two new VW seats and the Bolt's rear bench reupholstered in matching fabric / leatherette (haven't decided yet), and to source a good set of front seats. Then my last major bridge to cross will be the fitment of the Bolt's airbag module into the VW seat. Unfortunately I don't know how I'm going to really check that out before I commit to the donor seats as the airbag is inside the seat fabric on the Jetta, so I kinda need to take the covering apart to see what I'm dealing with. I expect to have to do a little modification to the new seatback frame in the new seat to make the Bolt's airbags fit. Seat heaters will be no issue at all, and I expect the passenger side seat occupancy sensor to swap in without much difficulty. Physical mounting will be done via a proper set of steel brackets, fabricated and powder coated to adapt the two bolt patterns.

I will continue to update as I get into it, but in the meantime here are a few of the key pics from the test fit. Enjoy!

Electronics under the driver seat:
http://imgur.com/5w5H5r4

Driver side floor area with the seat removed
http://imgur.com/A1TMExY

Quick and dirty adapter plates:
http://imgur.com/k3JLhfn

Seat in the car:
http://imgur.com/5BBJepn

Closer view of temporary mounting
http://imgur.com/6d1OJil

Another angle
http://imgur.com/GFT1KkG

Outboard clearance
http://imgur.com/GzlLR1j

Inboard clearance
http://imgur.com/CoL8qln

P.S. Sorry for the links, I'm unable to have the photos show up properly.
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Last edited by jostafew; 06-26-2017 at 01:40 AM.
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post #2 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 08:30 AM
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Now this is impressive. Well done! Seeing people go to an upholstery shop to add foam or modify the original seat always has me thinking about "why not just put in different seats". You have definitely took what was in my mind and put it in action. Are the Jetta seats officially the seats you'll be using? The black cloth will still look nice and it really doesn't look weird going in there at all.
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post #3 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! Right now I'm 90% certain that these will be the seats used. I may still go to a GM dealership and take a quick look at the seats in the Trax / Encore as I thought I read somewhere that the seat base is the same or similar to the one in the Bolt so mounting may be a little easier, and possible easier fitment of the electronic components by staying within the GM family. However, of the 3 GM cars I've had recently (service loaners) and the Volt I looked at none of their seats have been as comfortable as the ones from the Jetta (IMO), and they've all had incompatible seatbelt mounting, so I don't have high hopes for the seats in the Trax / Encore.

It probably wouldn't be the end of the world if I left the black seat fabric on the new seats but then they wouldn't match the rear bench and I think it's going to be hard to match one fabric to the other (either way), so for the sake of keeping things looking consistent I'm going to try to have them all re-covered in the same material. The goal is to have someone sit in the car and think it came that way from the factory.
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post #4 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-28-2017, 12:05 PM
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i assume you're going to make the final adapters out of steel or something. but my question is, do these adapters affect how the seat will behave in a crash? i'd imagine the loading on the body mounting points will be different (ie, now you have a torque instead of a shear), and not representative of what was tested in crash tests. any guesses on what insurance would say about this?
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post #5 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-28-2017, 12:39 PM
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It would be funny if a GM dealer had a Honda Fit EV or Soul EV as a rental since sometimes when they run out of loaner cars, rentals are the next step. But it might work in their favor through seeing in what ways the Bolt is better.
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post #6 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-28-2017, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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You're absolutely right, if I built brackets similar to the wooden ones in the photo (for test fitment) I would be changing the way the bolts and chassis mounting points are loaded. That kind of peeling stress would side-load the bolt heads and could cause a failure in a crash situation.

The brackets I would fabricate will run side to side across the two front and two rear mounting points (not front to back like the wooden ones), that way the bracket will become a fulcrum with the pivot point being the left chassis mount, returning that to a (nearly) pure tension load as intended.

I'll borrow an engineering PC here at work to run a few designs through FEA to ensure sufficient strength of the new bracket before fabricating .... While I work in IT now my background is Mech Tech (specializing in manufacturing) so I'm confident that with a little extra safety factor I can produce a mount that is function AND safe.

Regarding insurance, that had crossed my mind as well. People put aftermarket seats in cars all the time. I don't think that would make any difference to my automotive insurance as they don't cover my health needs in the event of a crash, and my different seat won't make the car an inherent danger to anyone else on the road. Should be a non issue, unless there is a crash and these new seats are damaged and need to be replaced. So far as my life insurance etc, unless I'm doing something blatantly dangerous (skydiving for eg.) they won't care about details like that.
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post #7 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-28-2017, 02:22 PM
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thanks for the clarification. re: insurance, it was actually medical payments i was thinking of, but it sounds like you've covered all the bases.
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post #8 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-28-2017, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by jostafew View Post
Thanks! Right now I'm 90% certain that these will be the seats used. I may still go to a GM dealership and take a quick look at the seats in the Trax / Encore as I thought I read somewhere that the seat base is the same or similar to the one in the Bolt so mounting may be a little easier, and possible easier fitment of the electronic components by staying within the GM family. However, of the 3 GM cars I've had recently (service loaners) and the Volt I looked at none of their seats have been as comfortable as the ones from the Jetta (IMO), and they've all had incompatible seatbelt mounting, so I don't have high hopes for the seats in the Trax / Encore.

It probably wouldn't be the end of the world if I left the black seat fabric on the new seats but then they wouldn't match the rear bench and I think it's going to be hard to match one fabric to the other (either way), so for the sake of keeping things looking consistent I'm going to try to have them all re-covered in the same material. The goal is to have someone sit in the car and think it came that way from the factory.
Are the seats powered or heated at all? Would you be wiring all of that stuff up or is it just going to be a manual non-heated seat??
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post #9 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-28-2017, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Are the seats powered or heated at all? Would you be wiring all of that stuff up or is it just going to be a manual non-heated seat??
I thought about that... I could have tried to score some power seats from a GLI or something but that would add cost and then I would have to run an additional power circuit for the seats. On any other car not big deal (just did the same for the trailer light module in my wife's '15 Jetta), but on this car I don't want to touch ANYTHING electrical to avoid giving them any excuse to void my warranty on the electrical bits of the car, which is everything hahaha. Besides, I almost prefer manual adjustment as it's lighter, there's less to go wrong, and is usually quicker to adjust.

In this case the "new" seats will be essentially the same as the old ones; heated bottom and seat back, with seat back airbags. 6 way adjustment on both seats. All of the electrical components in the Bolt seats will be moved over to the new ones so from the Bolt's electrical systems' perspective nothing will have changed.

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post #10 of 59 (permalink) Old 06-28-2017, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by borkbork View Post
i assume you're going to make the final adapters out of steel or something. but my question is, do these adapters affect how the seat will behave in a crash?
I don't know how the seat belts are set up in the Bolt, but if they're anchored to the frame rather than to the seat then it's probably a moot point. In that case the loads on the seat will be relatively modest compared to the loads on the frame anchor points.
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