Detroit — Germany's ZF Friedrichshafen AG wants to make it crystal clear just what it supplies to the auto industry.
So on the floor of the North American International Auto Show it has a full-size acrylic model of car complete with seats, a steering wheel, belt buckle and doors that open and close so both the industry and car buyers can see what it does.
“It's really a great opportunity to show people where the things we make sit in the car,” said John Wilkerson, senior communications manager for ZF's ZF TRW safety technology operations in Livonia, Mich.
ZF, based in Friedrichshafen, Germany, bought TRW Automotive a year ago, adding TRW's air bags, seat belts, steering wheels, electronics and other products to its already hefty automotive product mix of suspension systems and transmissions.
TRW first showed an acrylic vehicle mockup of its products at the Frankfurt auto show in 2007, but that display was static, Wilkerson said. The new one at the show at Detroit's Cobo Center allows visitors to open a door, take a (not very comfortable) acrylic seat and touch and feel its parts.
There's a heads-up display in the instrument panel and a touch-sensitive pad to navigate through an integrated infotainment system and an advanced steering wheel that can sense when drivers remove their hands from the wheel — part of an expected autonomous driving future.
Beneath the acrylic hood, there's the transmission, axles, advanced radars and cameras and steering systems. Inflated airbags show where there's protection in door panels and roof systems.
“We can tell people about it, but here's something where you can see it and actually get into it,” Wilkerson said.