A fingertip pushes the capacitive touch grid's icon for HVAC controls as a beep signals that the control panel's business card-sized blue screen is in the heating/cooling mode on an India-inspired technology demonstration vehicle, called the Growth Market Car.
"This is the first time we've done a vehicle aimed at a specific growth market," said Mark Jarvis, Visteon's Innovation Manager for North America.
Visteon and 3M engineers from around the world collaborated in designing the car's various interior and exterior product treatments.
"Just because India is a growth/emerging market country doesn't mean the people are not technology-savvy. They're very technology-savvy. We spent a lot of time breaking down our stereotypes of what it's like over there by interacting with our team in India as well as by going over there and experiencing India," Jarvis said during a media event at Visteon's Michigan headquarters in late January.
While the Growth Market Car emphasizes current and production-ready technologies, the C-Beyond concept car's production-ready and advanced technologies are designed to appeal to mature markets.
"But we're taking both demonstration cars to India. We're meeting with India's car manufacturers to have dialogue with them about what they like and don't like. With the C-Beyond, it's more about finding out when OEMs think India's market will be ready for a particular technology. We may hear, 'We're ready now,'" said Jarvis.
The C-Beyond takes an unconventional approach to heating and cooling with Visteon's intellectual property-protected flat HVAC module that is packaged under the floor behind the front passenger seat.
According to Mike Munoz, Visteon's Senior Manager of Climate Advanced Systems Engineering, "The orientation and positioning of the components—the same parts used in a conventional HVAC module—results in a very narrow/thin aspect ratio that allows the unit to fit in areas that previously weren't available for an HVAC module, such as under a floor, under a seat, or within a wheel well."
On the C-Beyond, the HVAC system's ducting goes through the B-pillars into the headliner.
"Not unlike an SUV or van auxiliary system, which delivers air through the headliner to each rear-seat passenger, the C-Beyond concept is about having independent shut-off devices for each occupant location, either through vents or independent shut-off doors within the distribution system," Munoz said.
Cool and warm air essentially showers down from a vent located directly above the C-Beyond driver and each passenger. "Warm air also can be distributed though floor vents and through defroster vents on the IP as is the case with a conventional HVAC system," said Munoz.
The vertical airflow concept is a stark departure from the traditional approach of packaging air vents on the IP and on the back of the center floor console.
Remote control of C-Beyond's infotainment system is possible with a Visteon-developed software application that allows vehicle passengers to select content using a smart phone or other mobile device. Handheld electronic items can be recharged from a wireless charging pad concealed in a center console "safe box" as well as USB slots on the passenger's side of the IP and on the center floor console.
C-Beyond's sliding floor console provides the driver with a mechanical scroll wheel to navigate through infotainment modes shown by icons on the IP's center display. Pressing down on the scroll wheel lets the driver select a particular option, such as a navigation destination or a radio frequency.
A 4.2-in TFT reconfigurable touch panel is another interface control point on the center floor console. According to Tim Yerdon, Visteon's Director of Global Innovation and Design, "The buttons displayed are dependent on different HMI-use cases, such as the tasks performed while driving or while parked."
The handwriting recognition option on the touch panel "allows users to write directly onto the 4.2-in touch panel with their fingertips. It is intended as an alternative to the keyboard during events such as destination entry and is considered a much quicker method of data entry. It also has the advantage of allowing an extended range of characters in countries where this may be preferred," explained Yerdon.
According to Michael Tschirhart, Technical Fellow, Advanced HMI Design Manager at Visteon, "We're always looking at different technologies, trying to find the right way to introduce those features and functions so that we can make the vehicle safer, more intuitive, and more enjoyable to the driver and passengers."