Johnson Controls, Inc.

Overhead Rail Vehicle Personalization System

Given the critical space issues in vehicle interiors, it is quite a challenge to find new and creative means for accommodating useful customer personal items and accessories. Johnson Controls Automotive Systems Group found a way to do just that, while offering a way to personalize a vehicle so equipped.

The solution is the Overhead Rail System, consisting of metal rails that attach to the inside headliner of the vehicle. These rails are engineered to hold easily-accessible modules that securely attach to (and detach from) the rails, quickly and without tools. This system is standard equipment on the new 2004 Ford F-150 high-end models and will be featured on a number of minivans later this year.

These modules are designed to accommodate a wide array of featured life-style items, including entertainment systems for movies or video games, tools, first aid kits, locked secured storage for CD’s, personal electronics and other items. Johnson Controls has established partnerships with consumer brand leaders, such as Black and Decker, Case Logic and Dow, to give consumers an unprecedented array of flexible modules, to equip their vehicle to suit their individual lifestyles. Because of the system’s universal design and interchangeable modules, automotive OEM’s will be able to offer many different consumer products and electronics within a relatively short period of time.

The Overhead Rail System originated as a concept by Johnson Controls New Product Strategy Group, Holland Michigan, responding to unmistakable customer trends toward personalization or “mass customization” of vehicle interiors. The idea was to design in features that follow changes in consumer lifestyles and their changes in needs over time. Products for use in the Overhead rail system can emulate the quicker development cycles of consumer products. Additional module capability and electronic features are on-going, and will be introduced as consumer demands are recognized.