DETROIT -- A major Chinese supplier is reimagining vehicle interiors for the day when motorists may not have to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.
Yanfeng Automotive Interiors used the Detroit auto show on Tuesday to introduce the Experience in Motion concept, or XiM17, to match the needs of consumers who may not have to focus on driving anymore.
The concept's consoles and seats can adjust to four modes: driving, family, meeting and lounge. Yanfeng supplied the parts while U.S. seat supplier Adient, which has a 30 percent stake in Yanfeng, provided the seats.
Yanfeng CEO Johannes Roters said the concept “responds to the significant transformation that has taken place in the automotive industry and our aspiration to drive this transformation by seamlessly integrating look, feel and function into the vehicle interior.”
In driving mode, all seats face forward. Yanfeng implemented new interior designs, such as an overhead console with the vehicle's start-stop button and gearshift, see-through A-pillars and a floor console that includes technology such as a finger-print lock for stowing items, and vehicle management controls for heat and air conditioning. The slim air vent for temperature control can be adjusted with the wave of a hand.
David Muyres, executive director for research and advanced development at Yanfeng, said a reassessment of the area stretching from the dashboard to the center console is important. As seats rotate and move to the rear of the vehicle, Muyres said, control moves with them in the console.
Family mode brings the two back seats together as one, pulls the rear console in front of them and rotates the front seatbacks 16 degrees. In meeting mode, the rear seat folds up and the driver’s seat moves to the back of the car. The passenger seat rotates 180 degrees to face the back.
Yanfeng Chief Technology Officer Han Hendriks said the supplier kept the driver’s seat facing forward in case the driver needs to take control of the vehicle. Hendriks said the supplier is working on safety concerns and motion sickness that can come with 180-degree-turned seats and autonomous driving.
In lounge mode, both seats face forward and move to the rear of the vehicle, giving passengers plenty of room to relax.
Muyres said the XiM17 concept can go into production when automakers are ready to offer autonomous vehicles. He said 2021 is the “watershed date” for which automakers are striving.