Whether driving the vehicle or just along for the ride, every occupant interacts with the interior. And what that interior will look like in coming years is still unclear, said Rose Ann Ryntz, vice president of advanced development and materials engineering at International Automotive Components Group.
"If you look at overall mobility expectations, they've pretty much not been defined," Ryntz said at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City on July 31. "I would tell you that the interior of a cabin of a car is not defined, either."
She said that IAC is being flexible with available materials to help its automaker customers find the answer.
"We just don't deal with aluminum or steel. We deal with myriad of magnesium, different type of plastics and different fillers," she said. "I would say it may be more complex when you look at the growth of crafted interiors and how we get there."
Ryntz pointed out that interiors have steadily evolved over the past 20 years. Past designs were scant on color, material stitching, chrome and other accents.
Automakers now want decorative lighting, accent stitching, connectivity, durable materials and multiple information displays, among other features.
"We have to be everything to everybody and be flexible enough to design an interior cabin that's acceptable to virtually every OEM," Ryntz said of the interiors segment.
Given that interiors have become far more complex and daring in styling, the manufacturing to produce it has become more daunting, Ryntz added.
"If a designer asks for a typical type of decoration, we need to understand what happens behind the scenes, underneath what I would consider the 'A-surface' to make a quality part," she said.
"We're designing for everyone," Ryntz said. "We don't have electric powertrains versus a combustion engine. We have a myriad of materials, a myriad of deployment characteristics, and I would say in all of it, lightweight is certainly already there but we're trying to continue to improve it."