Johnson Controls Inc. wanted to send a message to Europe about the spirit of harmony.
The Plymouth, Mich.-based automotive supplier did that not with speeches, but with a new, fully integrated interior concept called Symbiosis. The prototype, which blends together every part of an automotive interior in one piece, debuted in September at the auto show in Frankfurt, Germany.
The model partly was made to show off an integrated interior concept that JCI and other suppliers want to build, said Nathan Young, design director for JCI. But the company also wished to parade the capabilities of its Prince Automotive subsidiary to European carmakers.
JCI purchased Holland, Mich.-based Prince, a maker interior parts, in 1996.
``The acquisition of Prince was better understood in North America than in Europe,'' Young said. ``We only have a small Prince operation in England. So we used the Frankfurt auto show as a platform to carefully craft a message to Europe about Prince.''
Part of that message was to spread the word about some of Prince's plastic molding capabilities. The Symbiosis prototype, which JCI officials now are showing to suppliers in Europe, featured the following pieces:
A recyclable, synthetic PET-based substrate used for the system's headliner, pillars and door panels. The PET material is made from 100 percent post-industrial scrap.
PET material as a replacement for foam in seats.
A soft-touch instrument panel that uses a coinjection molding process with polypropylene as the substrate.
The prototype ties together a vehicle's seats, door panels, instrument panels, overhead system, headrests, sun visors, integrated trunk storage system, utility lighting and on-board electronics. After making the rounds in Europe, it will go on display at the North American International Auto Show early next year in Detroit, Young said.
``Interiors of the future are going to be the main selling point for vehicles,'' Young said. ``They used to be an afterthought, but now they're becoming a car's premier focus.''