PHOTO CAPTION: Johnson Controls RE3 electric concept car interior.

Johnson Control Develops RE3 Electric Concept Car

RE3 electric concept car is designed to demonstrate use of different materials and flexible, novel ways of using space.

Published: 15-Jan-2009

At this year's International Motor Show (IAA), Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI), one of the world's leading suppliers of automotive interiors, electronics and batteries, will present its new corporate identity, a number of innovations and a new concept car that emphasizes its understanding of the market and consumers and stands for product innovations and sustainability. Flexibility, novel ways of using space and a high level of user friendliness were of the utmost priority for the design engineers. Another premiere is an innovative driver information concept. In addition, the company is presenting new materials and hybrid batteries.

Johnson Controls has started to realign itself as a multi-industry company. The aim is to enhance its use of synergies between Automotive Experience, Building Efficiency and Power Solutions. The company will present its new corporate identity for the first time at the IAA, supported by a new vision. "We develop solutions that are more comfortable, safer and more sustainable," said Han Hendriks, Vice President of Industrial Design, Marketing, Communications and Advanced Sales Europe at Johnson Controls. "Our new slogan 'Ingenuity Welcome' represents this way of thinking. We aim to face the day-to-day challenges of our industry with a wealth of ideas." Often, just a small, unspectacular idea can develop into particularly creative and original solutions and lead to products that consumers want. The products to be premiered at the IAA already reflect this: For example, the interior concept is also characterized by smart solutions.

Innovative use of space in concept car

The alignment of the interior to the needs of the driver played a particularly important role here: The area behind the first row of seats is designed for individual use, offers storage space and creates a new feeling of spaciousness. This is made possible by the Slim Seat, which has a unique slim backrest and yet is just as safe and comfortable as conventional seats. In addition, the second row of seats also plays a part: In its normal position it is invisible so that the free space can be used for storage. If necessary, the rear seat row folds out for two passengers at the touch of a button. This is enabled by the Mechatronic Release mechanism rather than by motors. Furthermore, a special tech-nology allows the seats to provide contour and side support in their upright position, while the side bolsters are pulled into the backrest when stowed, thus reducing height. New seat foam in the rear and front seats reduces vibration and provides long-lasting comfort.

Both comfort and ergonomics continue to be of the essence: Electronic innovations for enhanced ergonomics and comfort

A hybrid cluster optimizes the interface between humans and machines, meaning less time is needed for processing infor-mation which diverts drivers' attention. This is achieved by using superimposed digital information which is linked up to an analog instrument cluster. To the right and left of the instrument cluster are two smaller segmented displays which enable the representation of different information. The information views change as the displays are shifted upwards or downwards.

A new, highly convenient interface solution links mobile devices to the vehicle. It allows, for example, mobile communication units and navigation systems as well as MP3 players to communicate with the vehicle. The advantage is that the driver no longer needs to operate the small buttons of the mobile devices since they can be controlled via voice, the multi-controller or operating controls in the steering wheel. The infor-mation can then be easily read from the display in the instru-ment cluster or instrument panel. The external devices are stowed out of sight and connected to the vehicle in a separate compartment in the armrest.

New processes for better surfaces

The armrests and the seats are fitted with soft nubuck leather. All other surfaces were manufactured using new processes: Johnson Controls used the two-color RIM alpha process to manufacture the instrument panel. The advantage of this process is that wall thickness can be controlled, making it particularly suitable for airbag integration. The new PP Thin Film technology was used to create the other surfaces, offering a high quality look for all products in the vehicle interior.

Environmental protection a top priority

The focus is on environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions. For example, a plug-in hybrid battery in the trunk of the concept car provides for low-emission operation making it less dependent on crude-oil-based resources. It is not only the battery, however, that is based on an environmentally friendly approach: The company set great store by the fact that the concept car already fulfills the requirements of the 2015 ELV directive that stipulates 95 percent recyclability.

On their tour of the booth, visitors will find further environmen-tally friendly products and concepts: Drawing on its experience in the processing of natural fibers, the company has developed new substrate materials. Unlike conventional plastic substrates, which are based on crude oil, these new materials are made up of plastics based on renewable raw materials. The company will also be presenting lightweight front seat structures that reduce the weight of seating systems. Hybrid structures made of aluminum and steel are combined using special welding processes.

"We are proud to present a concept car this year. This not only shows our potential in integrated interiors, it is also the result of our global cooperation," says Han Hendriks. The interior con-cept was developed based on the interdisciplinary cooperation of global teams. For example, employees in the USA developed and manufactured the center console and the battery.

Most of the solutions that will be presented at the IAA are already available for integration into the next vehicle generation.

Johnson Controls RE3 electric concept car

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