Faurecia SA wants to encourage drivers to change the look of their cars nearly as easily as they change clothes.
With the ``Happy Attitude'' concept, featured during a May 31 news conference in Detroit, Faurecia designers have created a way to change the skin of an instrument panel, door trim and even seat covers within minutes, giving a car one look for a business trip and a second for a night on the town.
To make the concept a reality, the company and its customers would have to reconsider how it makes those interior parts, but consumers would have a vehicle that is easy to customize, said Andreas Wlasak, industrial design vice president for Nanterre, France-based Faurecia.
``The auto interior has changed in style but not in architecture,'' Wlasak said. ``We're still waiting for the major change in automotive interiors.''
Rather than making an instrument panel that includes a structural substrate, foam and skin, Faurecia conceivably could produce the substrate as one piece of the package, then allow consumers to pop on the skin of their choice.
That skin would be similar to a fascia giving an aesthetic cover on top of the structural and impact-protection parts on a bumper.
The company would have to mold and assemble a complete substrate that can hold all of the electronics and other parts within a normal instrument panel, as well as a secure fastening system for the skin, Wlasak said.
The Happy Attitude collection includes a standard injection molded fascia skin as well as textile offerings.
Faurecia also has a concept skin fascia labeled ``Moon Time,'' which highlights the structural ribs of the substrate. Rather than a straight grid pattern, the ribs curve and circle across the structure and are visible through a translucent polyurethane skin.
The ribs also provide a 2-millimeter gap between the skin and substrate, giving a soft touch to the part without the cost of adding foam, said Olivier Boinais, industrial design manager of North American operations.
Faurecia is introducing the concept to automakers and is in talks to bring some aspects of it to the road in future cars, Wlasak said.