A Nissan Leaf on steroids!?

The all-electric Nissan Leaf is already a vehicle we would consider loaded down with enough electronics to keep you both amused and perhaps distracted while driving at the same time.

That being said, how could it perhaps be “teched out” more? Well, that’s what we found out recently after learning about the Visteon e-Bee, which is essentially a concept Leaf from the year 2020 that technology wise stops just short of making coffee for you.

Visteon, which is a global automotive supplier working with auto manufacturers on climate, electronics and interior products for their cars, recently showcased the e-Bee design idea at Electronica 2012 Trade Fair in Munich, according to Gizmag.

The electric vehicle on display was “designed to explore new and alternative ways of using a vehicle, including car-sharing, private ownership and short-term rental. Using touch display-based controls and cloud-centred profile storage, the e-Bee’s features are designed to be immediately familiar and intuitive for each individual user.”

What was being shown under the hood, so to speak, with the e-Bee were various technologies which are compatible with “electric vehicle and hybrid platforms” and focused on the idea of “useful driving-related data, acting as part of a wider mobility-enabling network and integrating technology and design that is simple, flexible and frugal.” The vehicle, to this end, makes the current Nissan Leaf design humble by comparison.

To start with, Visteon pointed out, take the position of the climate system, which helps keeps passenger comfortable during travel. The new integrated module was placed outside of the cabin, combining the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit with the refrigerant system, including an energy-efficient heat pump. It resulted in reduced weight to the vehicle and much more cabin space to work with versus conventional designs.

This reclaimed cabin space was then used for new interior design options, including a new driver interface which consists of a set of three displays: a main display for journey information and two smaller screens with touch-sensing capability.

The touch screens are located on either side of the steering wheel, according to Visteon, providing access to both vehicle controls and social connections. The car also features a projected head-down display for basic driving information and, in place of the traditional rear-view mirror, another display shows images from a panamorphic 180-degree rearview camera.

As part of the e-Bee’s design, extreme personalization for both the driver and passenger are envisioned through the interior technology. This includes, for example, a set of preferences that can be stored remotely and retrieved when the driver enters the vehicle “to define the look, colors and layout of the display-based human machine interaction (HMI), ensuring that e-Bee’s interface will always be immediately intuitive and familiar for users who alternate between cars.”

Each person in the vehicle would also have access to what’s described as a “door-mounted control module,” which would allow for interactions with “the climate system and individual climate zones, as well as a personal headrest-mounted audio system. Audio content can be played from a Bluetooth wireless technology-enabled personal device set in its own wireless charging bay in the door.”

There’s a lot more to this vehicle that Visteon has built in as well, such as a sustainably designed interior, but one gets the overall impression the e-Bee design is something which might go a long way towards helping to lure more mainstream drivers into green cars. Costs would have to be controlled though, as consumers in general are more focused on that than other issues when considering purchases of a vehicle.

Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling