Visteon's e-Bee interior concept strays from traditional packaging

  • 07-Jan-2013 03:41 EST
e-Bee forward view.jpg

Visteon's e-Bee concept features production-ready and advanced development technologies.

Visteon’s Integrated Climate System Module (ICSM) integrates the HVAC unit and the complete refrigerant system, including an energy-efficient heat pump, into a single unit that can be packaged in the engine compartment or another nontraditional place, such as the floor pan/underbody, depending on the vehicle architecture.

The ICSM serves as the key design linchpin for Visteon’s e-Bee concept, which makes its North American debut at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, NV.

All components for a functional HVAC system—heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning—are in a single space. “In classical systems, everything is distributed,” Tim Yerdon, Global Director of Innovation and Design for Visteon Corp., said, referring to the HVAC unit being located in the cockpit while the condenser, compressor, refrigerant lines, and other climate system-related components are in the engine compartment.

“The key enabler for the entire design is the ICSM, which drives the architectural thinking behind the rest of the concept. With challenging CAFE and CO2 regulations, we recognize the need to look beyond traditional methods to reach these [fuel economy and emissions] targets,” Yerdon explained to SAE Magazines.

Visteon’s e-Bee repackages the climate system in a downsized structure that uses less material in comparison to a conventional vehicle cockpit. The end result: e-Bee essentially makes a B-segment interior feel like a C-segment cockpit, or a C-segment’s interior space similar to that of a D-segment vehicle.

Another atypical packaging site is used for the e-Bee’s airbags, which are located in the headliner.

Visteon’s Innovation and Design team opted from the beginning of the e-Bee project “to eliminate as many design constraints as possible. By repackaging this technology outside of the traditional cockpit, we enabled space savings for the occupants, the freedom of design for our customers, and flexibility in the architecture that leads to substantial savings in complexity and mass,” according to Yerdon.

Several partner companies participated in the development of the hybrid and electric vehicle platform compatible e-Bee, which “allowed us to incorporate as much feedback as possible through the design process,” said Yerdon.

Dassault Systèmes’ 3DSwYm was used by e-Bee collaborators “to help us visualize and share ideas and information efficiently around the world,” noted Yerdon.

According to Derek Lane, Dassault Systèmes’ Public Relations Manager in North America, 3DSwYm (i.e., 3-D See What You Mean) is an innovation-conduit. “Customers use 3DSwYm to create social communities on the cloud, sharing ideas and collaborating with threaded discussion forums, wikis, media sharing—including 3-D media/visualizations—Q&A libraries, etc.,” Lane noted, adding that 3DSwYm is completely integrated with Dassault’s other 3-D apps, including CATIA, SIMULIA, DELMIA, and SolidWorks.

Concept e-Bee’s head-up display (HUD) represents an advanced development technology done in collaboration with BAE Systems to develop “an industry-leading display image quality with a compact and efficient optical design,” according to Yerdon.

By leveraging BAE’s aerospace technology, Visteon is then applying “its expertise in electronics, mechanical design and packaging, software, display integration, thermal and electromagnetic compatibility management,” Yerdon said. Initial development projects include both combiner and windshield HUD systems using a thin-film transistor image source.

Other driver information interface points on the e-Bee are three displays: a main zone for journey-related data and two smaller touch screens on each side of the steering wheel. Instead of a conventional rearview mirror, a display shows images from a 180° rearview camera.

From a material perspective, e-Bee’s development team kept it simple.

“Polypropylene is actually one of the only materials in the e-Bee’s concept interior. As polypropylene can represent up to 60% of plastic in current vehicles, we took the approach to extend the material to other interior components and simplify the design and recyclability of the parts,” Yerdon explained.

The e-Bee uses a global base interior structure, but the display types, storage options, and control architecture can be customized for regional tastes. Clip-on modules, such as cupholders, wireless charging devices, and other items, let occupants personalize the cabin.

By analyzing global megatrends and predicting the key industry challenges in 2020, Visteon planners designed the e-Bee concept around the themes of simplicity, flexibility, and frugality.

The aspect of simplicity is conveyed with a design that is “immediately familiar and intuitive for each individual user,” according to Yerdon. Flexibility is underscored by a basic architecture that is both suitable yet reconfigurable for regional audiences. And the notion of frugality is represented by a rediscovery of “efficient design in both the vehicle components and systems as well as the user experience with the electronics,” Yerdon noted.

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