In The Spotlight: Faurecia Says, When It Comes To A Vehicle’s Image, What You See — And Hear — Is What You Get
With so many new-generation models rolling out of auto plants around the globe, consumers are finding it a bit tougher to make their own vehicles stand out in a highly diverse crowd of nameplates. While traditional thinking suggests that a car’s image relies on its overall look, feel and operation, Faurecia has recognized that the sound a vehicle makes and the materials it sports often are just as important.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies is demonstrating technology that can transform the sound of a basic 4-cylinder car to that of a V8. Conversely, elements of the same technology can provide what amounts to “noise-cancelling headphones” for tailpipes.
Faurecia developed this ability to generate or cancel sound largely in response to strict new environmental regulations in Europe that produced an unanticipated side effect. An extra ceramic device mounted on diesel exhaust systems resulted in further muffling of engine noise. Suddenly premium cars with high power, high torque and a high price were creating very little sound, a disappointment to drivers. So Faurecia placed a speaker in a housing near the tailpipe, using the vehicle’s electronic control unit to activate it and produce specially designed sounds, depending on the vehicle’s speed and engine load.
The reverse problem occurs with turbo-charged, gasoline-powered vehicles. They often emit too much noise. In these instances, Faurecia uses an algorithm that enables the speaker at the end of the tailpipe to broadcast a frequency nearly the opposite of the noise being generated at any given moment. The result is a very low level of exhaust noise. This active noise cancellation can be coupled with active sound generation to substitute a more appropriate and pleasing sound, just as it does in diesels.
The auto industry is evaluating and implementing the most effective ways to use exhaust dynamic sound technologies to meet car-buyer expectations, and Faurecia is prepared for the full scope of sound design options, form ECU to speaker and canning. The Faurecia exhaust sound technology is being reading for the 2017 model year. Already, half a dozen global automakers have expressed interest in the system for both premium and mainstream vehicles.
While Faurecia is revolutionizing technology under the vehicle, it simultaneously is changing the conventional use of materials outside the car. Faurecia Automotive Exteriors is introducing bold new carbon-fiber components that are meant to be seen, not hidden. These components employ visible carbon, a composite that is not painted and therefore must be perfect in its formation, since flaws cannot be corrected. These visible carbon parts help automakers differentiate and personalize their vehicles for customers who want a distinctively different look.
At the Frankfurt show, Faurecia is displaying a complete floor and firewall molded from matte-finish visible carbon, along with a visible carbon front spoiler, roof and side blade (air intake).
While composites are commonly used in racing cars and jumbo jets to reduce their weight, Faurecia is bringing composite production techniques to the design of passenger-vehicle structural, semi-structural and decoration parts, with the dual benefit of an individualistic design and lower weight. Along with visible carbon, Faurecia is showing a carbon-fiber front fender and a sheet-molded composite hood, engine deck lid and rear fender. Additional composites are displayed for A-pillar reinforcement; the deck-lid surround; and composite door, front bumper and rocker panel.
While the industry generally has used composites only in very small amounts, Faurecia currently is developing processes to produce each of these types of structures in high volumes for mainstream vehicles.
Further, Faurecia is pursuing a new generation of composites that employs thermoplastic resin in place of thermoset plastic. Thermoset is durable but cannot be recycled, whereas thermoplastic could be melted and reused, as well as glued or screwed to structures instead of welded.
If seeing is believing, then new ways of hearing and seeing a vehicle are about to make even stronger brand believers of the next round of car buyers.