In The Spotlight: Innovation From Faurecia Makes Cars Smarter, Lighter, More ComfortableIn your next car, you may be replacing buttons and levers with a simple gesture, gauges with retractable touch screens, and conventional plastic with natural fibers that completely eliminate oil-based materials. All this is part of the technology that Faurecia is demonstrating at this year’s LA Auto Show. Faurecia, known for its clever innovations in automotive seating, interior systems, emissions control technologies and automotive exteriors, has focused for many years on systems that make vehicles lighter, smarter and more comfortable. In LA, the company showcases a number of advancements in these areas that are expected to be available on cars over the next few years. With a demonstrator called Performance 2.0, Faurecia Interior Systems shows off a cabin-full of wireless, touchless, natural-fiber and convenience innovations designed for midmarket vehicles that average consumers can afford. Retractable Screens Performance 2.0’s instrument panel supports two retractable screens, a small, automated heads-up display (HUD) module above the steering wheel and a centrally located retractable 8-inch touchscreen. The HUD shows information the driver needs, replacing conventional clusters of gauges, while the larger touchscreen serves as a display for navigation and entertainment systems. With only a simple gesture, the radial-sliding glove box rotates out and opens. The center console is equally remarkable, incorporating an armrest that opens with just a single touch. Inside the console is a charging area for smartphones. It is equipped with near-field communication technology that connects the device inside to the vehicle’s antenna. Mirror Link technology wirelessly transmits anything from an iPhone in the console to the center retractable screen and streams it wirelessly to a tablet mounted on the back of the driver’s seat. Like the glove box, the tablet is controlled with gestures. The demonstrator’s door panel is composed of a natural-fiber carrier and pocket and offers the industry’s first heated armrest. The armrest is covered with a textile that is backlit at night and that displays patterns in the daytime. The forward portion is covered with an anodized aluminum containing engraved graphics, the first use of this material in this manner for vehicles. All-Natural Injection Molding Another Faurecia Interior Systems exhibit demonstrates three evolutionary levels of natural-fiber materials developed with the goal of replacing oil-based plastics with fibers made from such materials as flax and hemp in the injection molding process. That goal is attained in Faurecia’s BioMat Project, which is ready to roll out an injection material composed 100 percent of natural fibers plus a bio-based matrix. Working with Mitsubishi Chemicals, Faurecia has finalized development of a poly-butylene succinate (PBS) ingredient that is combined with fibers from hemp plants. Faurecia further demonstrates the application of large areas of natural fibers -- its Ligneos wood-based decoration -- along with aluminum, in an exhibit that showcases the company’s “one-tool-x-surfaces” technology. This system enables Faurecia to produce a variety of wood and aluminum finishes using a single tool. Ligneos overcomes several inherent challenges in using wood, including its rigidity and the difficulty of working the wood. Ligneos allows for larger sheets of wood to be processed in three dimensions, making them lighter and more flexible. It also adjusts to the shape of the components, so it is perfect for larger surfaces, like instrument panels, door panels and seatbacks. 3D Seat Covers Another advancement in design comes in the form of sculpted seat covers from Faurecia Automotive Seating. A Faurecia cover-carving process transforms the conventional seat cover with a brilliant array of selections. The seat features creative covers, with embedded 3D effects and customized markings. Moreover, the covers can sport any of thousands of personalized trim options for seams, foils and other decoration available from Faurecia. These approaches contribute to Faurecia’s success in “mass customization” of seating for future vehicles. Many of these innovations are available now, and others will be found on midmarket cars in the next cycle of vehicle designs. But Faurecia has a vision for even smarter vehicle systems in the not-too-distant future and is showing those off in its interactive Vision Wall display. Demonstrated on an HD touchscreen are seating comfort concepts designed to help drivers feel better on arrival after a long trip than they felt when they started. The concepts combine a number of sensing and advanced adjustment technologies under development by Faurecia to enable seats to recognize, perfectly fit, re-energize and relax drivers. Within just a few years, we’ll be driving with these increasingly intelligent and comfortable systems that Faurecia is moving from concept to production. More about what Faurecia is demonstrating at the LA Auto Show at www.FaureciaLAAutoShow.com. Editor's Note: This Spotlight article was sponsored by Faurecia. For information on how you can sponsor content in the Spotlight, contact Van Rohr at (248) 327 2757 or email@example.com.