DETROIT — When the next generation of vehicle owners takes the driver's seat, they'll do a lot more than drive. That's the idea behind Johnson Controls Inc's new automotive interior concept.
The Tier 1 automotive supplier unveiled its Innovation Demonstrator (ID15) at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Designed for near-future autonomous capabilities, where an occupant spends only a portion of his time in the vehicle actually driving, the concept features a steering wheel that recedes into the dash when not in use and front seat backs that pivot 18 degrees to ease interaction among occupants while in autonomous mode.
Rounding out JCI's vision for the future are new storage options, luxury design details and a variety of smart materials.
Taking direction from an international study that identified increased storage as a top issue for consumers, JCI created several function-specific storage solutions for its concept. The ID15 includes a stowage space for large handbags, a sliding tray in the glove box for mobile devices and a sliding, insulated cool box for beverages underneath the center console. The new storage options were based on the idea of allowing occupants to engage in activities beyond driving, said Han Hendriks, vice president of advanced product development and sales at Johnson Controls Automotive Interiors.
“With autonomous [vehicles], storage becomes even more important, because now the driver in a 40 minute commute has 30 minutes to engage in other activities,” he told Plastics News.
Instead of hinged covers for storage spaces, the concept's door panels and center console incorporate tambour doors, which are a more cost-effective option and also save space, Hendriks added. A basic version of JCI's tambour door system is already in production in the Toyota Highlander.
Hendriks has spoken frequently about JCI's intent to move away from static plastic surfaces in favor of smart materials that provide a second function like lighting, as seen in the ID15's dashboard LED light strip, or heating for chilly days. This is particularly visible in the ID15's user interface, which relies on seamless, piano black ABS surfaces with integrated controls.