VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP — Visteon Corp. spent a rare sunny February afternoon Wednesday showing off some of the automotive high technology it showed off last month at the International Consumer Electronics Show, and it was just as impressive the second time around.
The star of the show was the Visteon eBee, an advanced electric vehicle based on a Nissan Leaf.
Visteon tore out Nissan’s interior and used the vehicle as a canvas for its peek at the cars of tomorow.
The first thing noticeable is how huge the interior is for a small car like the Leaf. That’s largely because Visteon tore out the dashboard and the heating and cooling systems behind it, moving them under the hood. Also gone are any storage compartments. Instead, there are rails along the front of the car and between its front seats, onto which an individual driver can attach everything from a storage cubby to a cup holder to a storage rack for a tablet or smartphone — “physical apps,” as Guillaume Becourt, designer with Visteon’s Auto Envision Group, put it.
Also, there’s no dashboard or instrument panel. Instead there’s a central TV screen, maybe 12 by 5 inches, above the steering wheel, flanked by two side five-inch screens called “petals.” The center screen conveys basic driving information and navigation, the left smaller screen controls for audio and climate, and the right smaller screen “lifestyle” information like emails and texts. Just above the main TV screen is a clear plastic panel onto which basic information like speed is projected.
Sound is personalized, projected through each individual headrest. Microphones in the car pick up driver and passenger voices and amplify them through the sound system, so everyone can hear everyone all the time.
Other touches include an ion generator, a fragrance diffusion system, car-to-cloud connectivity, and a fully recycled and bio-based interior.
Other cool stuff on display Wednesday:
* A vehicle-to-vehicle communication demonstration using model cars to demonstrate how cars can be kept a safe distance apart, and how cars can communicate with each other about hazards ahead, such as slippery roads, rough roads or potholes. The cars flash detailed warnings of hazards ahead to each other.
* A dashboard camera that scans your face to completely customize the instrument panel and other vehicle features. (It can also be programmed to take pictures of bad guys who are trying to steal your car.)
* A camera in the front of the car that reads speed limit and traffic signs, and also warns you when pedestrians are straying dangerously close to the road.
* An exhaust gas recirculation system with improved, effectively zero-leak seals to help with emissions controls.
* Lighter heating and cooling systems that help cut vehicle weight, boosting MPG.
* All-electric compressors that are more than two pounds lighter than earlier versions.
* An advanced battery cooling system for electric vehicles and hybrids.