Johnson Controls Presents New Concept Car at IAA 2009

Well thought out from three perspectives and implemented in its entirety: Johnson Controls’ re3 concept car brings together extraordinary demands on state-of-the-art vehicle interiors in the compact class segment. At IAA 2009, one of the world’s leading suppliers of automotive interior systems, electronics and batteries presents solutions for the future that are all possible right now. In the re3 concept, Johnson Controls displays a product package that is not limited to a single vehicle and satisfies current market demands: reduced weight, easy-to-follow arrangement of systems and modules in the vehicle interior, greater use of modular technology and design flexibility. The focus is on sustainability, with the goal of reducing fuel consumption and emissions while increasing comfort and safety at the same time.

The re3 concept car is showcased with a light, pure, yet simultaneously comfortable and generously spacious vehicle interior containing extraordinary display and control concepts and innovative seating solutions. The use of sustainable materials and unique design approaches ensures a harmonious, personal ambience. The re3 is powered by a powerful, environmentally friendly lithium-ion high energy battery. The name re3 stands for "rethink, renew and respond" and is the development formula adopted by Johnson Controls’ engineers and designers, who have raised their skills to new levels in this new concept car. "The result is a symbiosis between innovative product ideas and process technologies, sustainable material use and the comprehensive implementation of contemporary design concepts," said Detlef Jürss, Vice President Engineering Seating, Interiors and Systems Europe, Africa and South America.

EcoSpace cockpit structure allows for space and greater freedom of design EcoSpace is a hybrid cockpit structure using plastic and steel that eliminates half of the traditional cross-car beam. The steel is used on the driver’s side in the form of a tripod, while the plastic is used across the full cockpit width. Air channels and the connection to the airbag are incorporated directly into the plastic structure, enabling the automakers to benefit from a weight reduction of up to 26 percent compared to conventional cross-car beams. For the vehicle designers, the use of the EcoSpace concept constitutes a major plus in terms of freedom of design. For instance, they now have total flexibility in designing the space in front of the passenger.

Besides reducing weight, optimizing available construction space was a key focus in the development of the re3 cockpit structure. The goal was to remove as many functions as possible from the cockpit and locate them in more appropriate positions from a functional perspective. As a result, and considering that there are many other conceivable layout options, Johnson Controls was able to create more leg room for the front seat passenger while also creating very spacious storage compartments. As a result, the glove compartment was thus 150 percent larger. To achieve variety of design and give the vehicle interior a stylish appeal, the instrument panel and door panels were made from the same environmentally friendly and visible natural fiber material, giving the surfaces a natural appearance.

A futuristic layout and at the same time suitable for day-to-day use In the re3 concept car, the electronic control functions and user interfaces that were previously located in the center/tunnel console or the door panels were removed and integrated into an alternative, ergonomically favorable position. The electronic controls, parts of the user interfaces for the infotainment system and all of the controls for the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) functions and other control and comfort functions have now been conveniently integrated into the driver’s right armrest. All of this was intended to achieve a new spatial and design concept.

Efficient lithium-ion high-energy battery offers sustainability The expertise of the world leader in the automobile battery segment comes to the forefront in the re3 concept with the integration of a lithium-ion high-energy battery for the plug-in hybrid concept. It is far more powerful than the traditional nickel metal hydride batteries that are still used in most hybrid vehicles. The highly efficient, liquid-cooled battery contains 7.6 kWh of energy and is available for series production. You can drive about 50 km with this battery in pure electric battery mode before the internal combustion engine kicks in – making it about ten times more powerful than the batteries in current use. In theory, you could drive to work in electric mode, charge it while there, and then drive back again on fully electric power. In this connection, Johnson Controls has positioned the battery in the tunnel console between the two front seats for maximum safety.

Slim executive seats optimize passenger communication In the re3 concept, Johnson Controls has used the super-slim "Slim Seat", which offers the front passenger a high level of seating comfort while leaving a generous amount of knee room for the passenger in the back. This is achieved by using a conventional backrest structure with a thin layer of seat foam and also Comfort Shell technology, which individually adapts to the passenger’s body shape. These seats with the characteristic slim profile are made entirely using a modular structure (MS) in the seat base and back area. To reduce the risk of whiplash in a vehicle collision, the seats have been fitted with a crash-active head restraint that propels forward in the event of a collision.

The developers also focused intensively on the question of how to break through the traditional communication barrier between front and rear-seat passengers so as to encourage conversation between the seat rows. The result was the "Conversational Seating" concept. Added value for all passengers is provided by the seating arrangement, which creates a conversational triangle by means of a front passenger seat that slides backward into the second row using an extended track, together with fold-away rear seats and a mechatronic release mechanism. The new seating position not only gives the front passenger a unique amount of leg room, but also proves highly practical for interaction with a rear-seat passenger, for instance to attend to a child more easily.

With the re3 concept, Johnson Controls has created a vehicle that is simultaneously intelligent and functional while offering additional space as well as environmentally friendly and inconspicuously stylish. "Our new concept car can hold its own in today’s difficult market conditions, because it points in innovative directions in the compact class segment with a range of accessories and optional equipment that trigger the impulse to purchase, are sought by consumers and are a way for our customers to differentiate themselves from the competition," said Detlef Jürss.