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Comfort: A Future Issue for the Automotive Branch - Edag at the Geneva Motor Show

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - Besides developments aimed at improving their ecological compatibility, the question of comfort will be a decisive factor in the marketing success of future vehicle types. Having said this, in the age of networked communication and infotainment systems, the term "comfort" is not limited purely to physical comfort in the car. A car of tomorrow will have to provide the customer with the ability to access any data and information which he or she needs for either private or professional use. Merging the realms of vehicle, office, home and worldwide service and infotainment options defines the future meaning of the word comfort in the automotive branch.

As a global partner to the automotive industry, EDAG has defined "the vision of comfort" as its leading theme, and this will take centre stage at the company's presentation at the 2008 Geneva Show. With its presentation of the articulated roof for the Rolls Royce Phantom, EDAG is showcasing its first step towards its target of developing complex, innovative luxury solutions.

"Vision of Comfort" – Focus: Vehicle Body
Innovative vehicle body concepts in the exterior and interior will also contribute to an increase in comfort within the car in the future. Ergonomically optimised package concepts, such as access aids, serve to improve convenience considerably. Controls, seating comfort, air conditioning and visibility all have to undergo constant refinement, as requirements are always changing. This will mean that vehicle derivatives, created by designers and engineers to have optimised functions and guarantee user convenience, will become an absolute must. Using the example of one means of optimising access to a Rolls Royce Phantom, EDAG will be documenting its expertise in the development and close-to-production implementation of innovative luxury concepts within the field of vehicle bodies.

Optimised entry to a Rolls Royce Phantom
Not even a Rolls Royce Phantom will be able to satisfy its owner’s every wish. One example is the seat behind the ‘C’ pillar in the rear of the car, which traditionally creates a feeling of security and privacy. With the production model, however, this does have a price: namely the fact that it is impossible, even for someone of average height, to enter and leave the car in an upright position. The solution that EDAG developed is an articulated roof over the rear seat area, so that passengers can get into and out of the car in comfort. It might sound trivial, but the job called for a great deal of technical finesse. First of all, EDAG’s Product Development and Production departments worked out various concepts for raising the roof and the lateral roof frame together. It goes without saying that the exclusive interior design was to be borne in mind at all times, and that neither rigidity, comfort nor sealing capacity were to be compromised under any circumstances whatsoever.

There was no way to avoid severing the lateral roof frame of the aluminium spaceframe. A reinforcement cut from solid metal, which at one and the same time incorporates the kinematics, water channel, locking mechanisms, seals and finger protection, does, however, provide the essential rigidity of the body.

The aluminium structure for the roof was likewise cut from the solid. To save weight, the roof’s outer skin panel is made of synthetic carbon-fibre material. The roof’s interior trims were re-designed, and covered with original quality Rolls Royce materials. By simply pressing a button, the driver or passenger can activate the specially developed electronic controls, and raise the hydraulically powered roof segment with practically no sound whatsoever. Modification of the roof structure has had no effect on either the car's handling or its interior acoustics.

"Vision of Comfort" – Focus: Electrics / Electronics
With navigation systems, mobile telephones, vehicle locating or infotainment systems, a wide variety of functions that provide contact with the outside world have already found their way into the car. Developers are already confronted with the immense challenge of geometrically and functionally integrating these systems into the vehicle body, and most particularly into its electronics architecture. The complexity of these demands will increase dramatically over the next few years.

Customers are already using a variety of systems and services, for private and professional reasons. Internet, office applications, location-independent access to servers, electronic music, DVD libraries or the mobile control of electronic systems in-house (Home) are applications which are today taken more or less for granted. "We have set ourselves the task of making it possible to use these products in the car. In the future, the customer will not want to have to do without these material comforts, and will expect simple, intuitional access to the systems and data environments he is familiar with," explains Dr. Robert Hentschel, Head of EDAG's Vehicle Electrics and Electronics. This vision can generate a genuine, extra benefit for the motorist, if we can succeed in linking the systems together intelligently, and designing the man-technology interface to be as simple as possible. The domains specified by EDAG's Electrics/Electronics Division as elements of their "vision of comfort" are the Internet, Home and Office. Using "Office", should guarantee the driver access any time to is business and private data via Internet, and also to his email and text messages.

EDAG will be backing the functional integration of nomadic devices (PCs, MP3 players, mobile telephone, etc.) and the vehicle's permanent connection to the Internet. Due to the inflation of nomadic devices and the shortness of their product cycles, geometric integration in the vehicle is not possible. EDAG's basic approach is to provide an easy-to-use means of making data from familiar environments available to the passenger. From today's point of view, the Internet will become a central tool for implementing the EDAG vision of comfort. The intelligent linking up of all currently existing systems and services will open up yet another benefit to the customer. Interlinked telephone directories, for instance, will enable the driver to automatically pass on an address he has found to his car's navigation system. Sales representatives can have their secretaries upload their routes for them, or can pass on vehicle data to the authorised repair shop to carry out long-distance diagnosis. “Home”, too, the control of systems in the domestic environment, can be secured by means of data connection of the vehicle to the Internet. To sum up, the field of electrics and electronics will have a decisive role to play in the future success factor of "comfort".

With its presentation at the Geneva Motor Show, EDAG is highlighting the theme "Vision of Comfort" as a key task for mobility requirements of the future.