Drivers will soon be able to personalize their driving experience both visually and dynamically using an interface inspired by high-end digital cameras, thanks to engineers from Continental’s Interior, Powertrain and Chassis and Safety divisions who collaborated on a concept they call “Simplify Your Drive.”
“Today’s most sophisticated digital cameras use preconfigured settings for action, landscapes and portraits so the photographer can ‘point and shoot’ and always achieve optimal results,” said Ralf Lenninger, head of the strategy and research department at Continental’s Interior division. “Our vision for Simplify Your Drive is to give drivers the same convenient way to configure their vehicle for the desired driving situation. Vehicle owners will really benefit because it is like having three cars in one.”
Simplify Your Drive allows drivers to switch between preconfigured Eco, Sport and Comfort modes using an intuitive three-button interface. Once a driver selects a profile, the look and feel of the vehicle’s interior, including its reconfigurable instrument cluster and center console display, will change, as will certain performance attributes.
Push “Red” for a Sporty Ride: When a driver selects the Sport profile, vehicle systems are configured to improve agility and traction and maximize engine performance. In addition, an animated drift indicator showing lateral and longitudinal acceleration will appear in the reconfigurable cluster. Additional round virtual gauges underscore the sporty character.
Push “Blue” for Comfort: In the Comfort profile, the vehicle’s systems, such as the air suspension and cruise control, are tuned for maximum comfort so that the driver can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Push “Green” for the Most Economical Ride: When a driver pushes the green Eco profile button, the car transforms to operate at maximum energy efficiency. The engine and transmission management systems adjust performance to optimize fuel economy while the navigation system calculates and informs the driver about the most efficient route to follow.
In addition, comfort systems, such as air conditioning to seat heating, will adjust to match the electric power available. The driver may also be informed about economical shifting strategies. Initial studies show that fuel economy can be improved by up to 16 percent when a driver is regularly informed about which gear is most efficient.
Continental and certain automakers are exploring how a profile strategy can be used to help achieve corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) targets. For example, a driver could earn “eco points” when driving in an economical mode. When enough eco points are accumulated, the driver would be allowed to transition to sports mode.