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Automotive Interiors Expo 2010

Thu, 08 Jul 2010

The first Automotive Interiors Expo, an event that was part of no less than five automotive trade exhibitions gathered together at the Stuttgart Messe, took place in southern Germany from the 22 to 24 of June. The exhibitions, comprising European Automotive Components Expo, Automotive Testing Expo, Vehicle Dynamics Expo and Engine Expo, showcased the latest technologies and services from over 500 suppliers to the automotive industry.

Grouped in three large halls, the Expo covered conventional powertrains and batteries right through to vehicle electrical systems and crash testing, but it also featured a panel of experts discussing the color, feel and shape of material design, synergies and design challenges; safety, lighting and HMI's; and interior component design as a means of achieving sustainable and lightweight vehicles. The speakers delved into the current issues facing the auto design industry over the course of three days, and included presentations from 27 designers on many subjects central and peripheral to automotive interior design.

Following an introduction from moderator Steven Madge, who spoke about global cultural trends in vehicle interiors, Carlos Sanchez, assistant chief designer at Italdesign-Giugiaro gave a talk entitled ‘Perceptive interface of interior versus exterior efficiency through design'. Sanchez explained the emotional effects of different colors upon the passengers and how textures provide quality to interior materials. Fabio Filippini, VP of interior design at Renault, talked about ‘Zero Emissions new design challenges, new design opportunities', explaining the design philosophy of Renault and the efforts to bring a more human and emotional values to interiors, particularly in the four latest ZE Concepts. Amko Leenarts, manager of interiors at Peugeot, concluded the morning presentations on the first day in a presentation that focused on how motion outside the car creates emotion inside. Peugeot's recent showcars such as the SR1 and BB1 explore new packaging for occupants that offers new experiences in the perception of interior space.

The second half of the first day saw CDN's Nick Hull give a presentation for Coventry University discussing the semantics of interiors, entitled ‘Premium, Fashion or Function?'. The presentation focused on the importance of perceived quality within automotive interiors and answered the question of how to measure the semantics of a design while identifying a unique brand fingerprint. Stefan Arndt, chief designer for the Meriva, and Belinda Muller assistant chief designer color and trim at Opel talked about the design of the new MPV's interior. The talk, entitled ‘Sculptural artistry meets German Precision' explained how the company's interiors have moved from architectural to a warmer, more sculptural direction, and now use embossed 3D fabrics and soft touch feel to all controls. Later that afternoon Thorsten Süss, industrial design manager at Faurecia, explained how the marketing color of sustainability has changed from green to white and blue.

After presentations centering around new technologies for safety and comfort for vehicle occupants on the second day of the conference, Emmanuel Deflin, product development manager at Brochier Technologies, gave a fascinating insight into the possibilities of woven fiber optics into fabrics during the 'Lighting - innovative design with human factors  in mind' session, while the third day saw Andreas Maashoff, director industrial design at Johnson Controls give a talk entitled ‘Re3 - Rethink-Renew-Respond' that explored how plug-in hybrid interiors respond not only to consumer desires, but also to key industry issues. With compelling HMI, redefined seating architecture and increased storage, they can create an interior that inspires.

There was a strong underlying theme from many speakers about nature and biomimicry as a key influence in interior design, together with the need to integrate increasing amounts of lightweight and renewable materials. Unusually, the conference area was set as an open forum within the show and, while this arrangement allowed a more casual atmosphere to proceedings, it suffered from some background noise and at times made it difficult to encourage questions from the audience about the topics being discussed.

Despite technical problems with some presentations and fewer speakers than scheduled, the event was well attended by automotive design professionals from both OEMs and suppliers, including visitors from China, India and the USA.

A number of full-size models were also shown at the exhibition, including the Peugeot SR1 concept, EDAG Lightcar concept and the Mercedes ESF 2009, the latest in a total of 31 experimental safety vehicles built by Mercedes-Benz since 1969. New features include a belt airbag that doubles the width of the belt in milliseconds to avoid chest injuries and additional shoulder and head restraints for front and rear occupants.

Seat maker Recaro displayed a functioning model called ‘Elmar', developed by Hochschule Mannheim that features an interior suspended from an overhead carbon-fiber chassis, electric motors in hubless wheels and skid steering. Meanwhile, textile supplier Strähle & Hess showed the ‘Hydrokultur' concept, developed in collaboration with three German universities that was winner of the Shell Eco-marathon 2010. The lightweight car utilizes a natural ash frame, recycled cotton for body panels and basalt fiber for the wheels.

Other exhibitors included Autodesk, Eagle Ottawa, Lear Corporation, Mankiewicz GmbH, Wardle Storeys and Reutlingen University, Germany.

Related website:
Automotive Interiors Expo 2010

By CDN Team