By Nicholas Katers |
Automakers receive plenty of attention from the media and car enthusiasts for their development of green vehicle concepts. An alternative path to developing hybrids and all-electric vehicles involves coordinated manufacturing among parts suppliers. Michigan-based Visteon Corporation is offering a glimpse into this future during the upcoming International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visteon has developed a concept vehicle called the e-Bee that showcases innovative approaches to climate control, driving controls and the driving experience. The Visteon e-Bee is based on a future where drivers will require more flexibility from the commuting experience.
Visteon imagines that commuters in 2020 will need versatile vehicles that can be owned, rented or shared. The keyword when developing the e-Bee for CES was personalization. An automaker that takes up the e-Bee concept encounters flexible vehicle architecture and design ideal for global distribution. This vehicle concept could be downsized for an affordable urban EV or expanded for a full-sized luxury sedan. A driver settling into the e-Bee sees myriad opportunities for customization within arm’s reach. Visteon includes spaces for vehicle owners to place their phone chargers, cameras, cup holders and other optional features. Motorists can also save seat adjustments, climate preferences and driving information in cloud-based storage for access from vehicle to vehicle.
The cockpit of the Visteon e-Bee looks a like a display from Tron rather than the interior of a green vehicle. A journey display is aligned perfectly for visibility through the empty space of the steering wheel. This display creates a real-time visualization of the vehicle’s location, directions and estimated time of arrival. A pair of touch-screen displays surrounds the steering wheel for easy access to fuel consumption, appointments and entertainment options. Visteon developed a display projection that provides a 180-degree panoramic view of traffic instead of a rearview mirror.
Another innovative element of the e-Bee is a radically redesigned climate control system. Visteon studied HVAC systems in current hybrids and plug-in vehicles before producing this concept. The e-Bee climate control unit is combined with the refrigerant system to save space. The HVAC unit is stationed near the engine to free up leg room in the front seats. Owners concerned about wasting energy on heating and air conditioning are relieved by smart energy management built into the HVAC. Visitors to the International CES will also note high-end features like a cooled storage box in the trunk, air diffuser and fragrance diffuser enabled by this system.
A closer examination of the Visteon e-Bee reveals finer touches necessary for a futuristic driving experience. The e-Bee would be capable of communicating with neighboring cars about car-sharing programs, charger locations and traffic snags. This information would be accessible by other connected vehicles through cloud storage without any effort by drivers. Each seat in the e-Bee includes speakers built into the head rest along with individual climate controls. Visteon has worked with automakers around the world on advanced components for new models. The e-Bee will not be realized fully as a production vehicle but individual components could be helpful for automakers trying to create friendlier hybrids and EVs.