Yanfeng, the China-based auto supplier that became a global powerhouse when it took over the auto interiors business of Johnson Controls Inc. nine years ago, came to CES in Las Vegas for the first time to show drivers and prospective buyers of electric vehicles what it can offer.
The interior components supplier hopes its debut at CES will show off how vehicle cabins, including seats, audio and steering wheels, can evolve to meet those expectations, Jeff Stout, Yanfeng's executive director for global innovation, told Automotive News.
"It's not like they need a Jetsons car," Stout said. "But people who are buying or looking to buy an electric car are looking for a different experience. A lot of the things we're showing at CES were informed by that kind of research."
Yanfeng's new Electric Vehicle Interior concept provides a glimpse into how the supplier sees interiors transforming in the coming years as electrification continues. There is no traditional instrument panel, and all critical features and functions are incorporated into a "Smart Cabin seat," including audio and safety systems, storage and charging.
The cabin hints at where Yanfeng sees interior design heading in the future, with simple but high-tech features that provide the functionality drivers and passengers need while increasing their levels of comfort.
The new design also has the potential to simplify the vehicle assembly process for automakers, the company said in a news release. With key components integrated into the seat instead of elsewhere, manufacturing can be made "easier, faster and less costly" than typical, Yanfeng said.
The supplier hopes that its physical presence at CES will allow it to connect with executives, engineers and journalists as it did at auto shows in Detroit, Frankfurt and Paris. (The auto show in Yanfeng's hometown of Shanghai is the only one it still regularly participates in, Stout said.)
"There's enough critical mass at this point, post-COVID, that CES is our opportunity to have a show where we highlight our latest technology that we've developed over the past year," he said.
Other products Yanfeng is showing at CES include:
• An upgrade on the company's "Hover Seat," which uses sensors to detect a driver or passenger's posture, fatigue level and body type to automatically adjust the seat's headrest, lumbar support and sides to make it more comfortable.
• ClickRim, a modular steering wheel concept Yanfeng says can cut down on the time needed to produce a typical steering wheel by about two-thirds.
The automated process uses features such as heating or an embossed logo integrated into steering wheel modules through injection molding, which are then attached as a complete system.
• CYMATICX, an "immersive acoustic" system for vehicle interiors.
Stout said a cyberattack against Yanfeng's offices late in 2023 did not result in an impact on the products his team was working on or the technologies the company planned to showcase at CES.
"We just kept doing our jobs," he said of the criminal attack. He declined to comment on the incident's larger impact on the company.
Yanfeng ranks No. 17 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers, with worldwide sales to automakers of $15 billion in 2022.