A new bin design that surrounds the bottom of a car’s center console is designed to catch hotel keys, slim smart phones and even slippery french fries that get dropped between the center console of a car and the seat.
The design grew from giant interior and battery supplier Johnson Controls’ “snoop patrol” research, where designers and engineers peek through van windows in public parking lots to watch how consumers use their cars. Johnson Controls’ Han Hendriks, vice president for advanced product development for electronics and interiors, announced the convenient new catch-all design at the North American International Auto Show as part of a new concept “bespoke” interior that the company is hoping carmakers will use in future models.
“Sometimes the light bulb in your head just goes on,” said Hendriks, describing what his designers thought when the catch-all bin came up during an internal weekly research meeting several months ago. If you ever feel you’re being watched as you park your car in a Meijer store lot, your paranoia may be well founded; the Johnson Controls researchers have been snooping on shoppers using their cars for decades.
“What’s more, the bin is not expensive,” he added. The concept interior features more sophisticated details, too, such as surfaces that can accommodate inductive charging of driver and passenger cell phones.
Of all of the new and updated cars debuting at the North American International Auto Show this week, no less than 25 have interior parts designed and refined by Johnson Controls, which is also displaying lighter-weight seating systems and advanced batteries all intended to help squeeze more fuel economy from future cars.