The driver and passenger experience is changing, with advanced technologies able to boost safety and reduce the load on the driver, as well as open up new possibilities for passengers. New business models will also play a role in the future vehicle interior. Continuing just-auto/AIC’s series of interviews, we spoke to Todd Fletemier, Vice President of R&D and Engineering – Midwest Technology Platform, Faurecia about shared mobility and the design implications for the interior. This interview is the first of two focusing on car interiors with the tier one component supplier.

What does the trend for shared mobility mean for Faurecia in terms of its products, technologies and manufacturing?

The changing trends are demanding products and technologies that are adaptable.  While ride-share will require more advanced products in the rear of the vehicle, and potentially provide independence to each passenger. As part of our Cockpit of the Future vision, we are focused on the application and the ability to adapt the interior to it.  Our technology offerings are driven by the connected cockpit which is a requirement of the future of mobility.

Our manufacturing strategies are such that as our technology portfolio increases in technical content, our manufacturing base is advancing in its ability to produce these products.

If tomorrow’s mobility is about sharing cars, what does that mean for the interior?

Shared mobility is a diverse product set which in the context of shared vehicles demands Products and technology that can meet a multitude of passenger demands.  This will drive a unique product offering that is as easily operated by an ageing population as it is the younger generations. 

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Individualization is a growth market that offers the potential for differentiation. How is Faurecia responding to that?

We see the trend toward individualization and shared mobility driving similar products.  For instance, the ability to change your interior colour choices for lighting, perhaps trim panels that can be individualized to your mood that day. 

Given the accent on tomorrow’s car interior is becoming more about occupant comfort and health, how will that affect the interior?

Faurecia’s vision includes products that offer individual comfort on a much greater depth, for instance, we envision a cockpit that adapts that interior to the individual.  Advancing technologies that monitor the driver and passengers and improve their wellness are important parts of the future of the interior.

To what extent can your mobility concepts be applied to elsewhere, i.e. transportation?

Many of our applications can be applied in mass transport, agriculture, and the heavy trucking industry with minimal adaptation.  Of course, there are adaptation’s which would be required, however, they are minimal.

We are hearing more about monitoring the health and wellbeing of the vehicle occupants especially since the pandemic struck, especially with the autonomous car on the horizon. What role is Faurecia playing in this area?

Faurecia is a leader in the development of applications in Health and Wellness.  We envision the two being distinct offerings, with some potential cross over applications.  An example is our Biosensing Safety challenge last year where Faurecia sought out startups that technology that can help us identify emergency events of the driver.  

Covid has moved car sterilisation to the forefront. What technologies/solutions can Faurecia offer the auto industry in a post-Covid-19 market?

Faurecia has been working in interior sterilisation efforts for some time.  Surfaces that are self-disinfecting, and using UVC lights to disinfect are areas of interest to us. The challenge is maintaining the level of comfort and appearance while providing the cleanliness.  

Where do you see the greatest demand for car sterilisation – ride-sharing or personal vehicles?

Short term we see personal vehicles being the lead demand as the ride-sharing industry recovers from the pandemic. Currently, the ride-share industry is dominated by the use of a personal vehicle, until that changes we see a consistent pattern.