Innovative use of space in concept car

The alignment of the interior to the needs of the driver played a particularly important role in the i3 interior demonstrator: The area behind the first row of seats was designed for individual use, offered storage space and created a new feeling of spaciousness. This was made possible by the Slim Seat, which had a unique slim backrest and yet was just as safe and comfortable as conventional seats. In addition, the second row of seats also played a part: In its normal position it was invisible so that the free space could be used for storage. If necessary, the rear seat row folded out for two passengers at the touch of a button. This was enabled by the Mechatronic Release mechanism rather than by motors. Furthermore, a special technology allowed the seats to provide contour and side support in their upright position, while the side bolsters were pulled into the backrest when stowed, thus reducing height. New seat foam in the rear and front seats reduceed vibration and provided long-lasting comfort. 

Both comfort and ergonomics continued to be of the essence. 

Electronic innovations for enhanced ergonomics and comfort

A hybrid cluster optimized the interface between humans and machines, meaning less time was needed for processing information which diverted drivers’ attention. This was achieved by using superimposed digital information which was linked up to an analog instrument cluster. To the right and left of the instrument cluster were two smaller segmented displays which enabled the representation of different information. The information views changed as the displays were shifted upwards or downwards. 

A new, highly convenient interface solution linked mobile devices to the vehicle. It allowed, for example, mobile communication units and navigation systems as well as MP3 players to communicate with the vehicle. The advantage was that the driver no longer needed to operate the small buttons of the mobile devices since they could be controlled via voice, the multicontroller or operating controls in the steering wheel. The information could then be easily read from the display in the instrument cluster or instrument panel. The external devices were stowed out of sight and connected to the vehicle in a separate compartment in the armrest. 

New processes for better surfaces

The armrests and the seats were fitted with soft nubuck leather. All other surfaces were manufactured using new processes: Johnson Controls used the two-color RIM alpha process to manufacture the instrument panel. The advantage of this process is that wall thickness can be controlled, making it particularly suitable for airbag integration. The new PP Thin Film technology was used to create the other surfaces, offering a high quality look for all products in the vehicle interior. 

Environmental protection a top priority

The focus was on environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions. For example, a plug-in hybrid battery in the trunk of the concept car provided for low-emission operation making it less dependent on crude-oil-based resources. It was not only the battery, however, that was based on an environmentally friendly approach: The company set great store by the fact that the concept car already fulfilled the requirements of the 2015 ELV directive that stipulates 95 percent recyclability.



The Slim Seat is an advanced seating development designed to meet carmaker demands for distinctive-looking, slim-line seating.The concept combines comfort and safety with a lean, dynamic seating design.


  • Improved packaging, more space for rear seat passengers
  • Solution in line with current trend towards lean seating design
  • High level of comfort
  • The transparent, open texture conveys a sense of spaciousness


A clean storage vs a hidden storage area is ensured using mechanisms, such as Mechatronic Release and Open Seating, to ensure user-friendly rear seat flexibility operation. 


Mechatronic Release: 

  • Improved access - since the switches can be placed at different locations in the car
  • No releasing effort
  • Different combinations of folding and stowing movements are possible

High-quality appearance and craftsmanship

  • Open Seating:
  • Slim package
  • Self-deploying side bolsters provide very good side support
  • Seat stows away in one fluid motion to create a true zero-degree, fold-flat load floor



Multi-layer, cast thin film produces higher quality surfaces when compared to painted or covered applications and remains cost effective. 


  • Cost efficient upgrading of interior applications
  • High scratch and mar resistance compared to conventional or painted injection molding
  • Controllable gloss (0.6 – 2+)
  • Higher flexibility in carrier material selection
  • Less field failure (no delamination)
  • Easy to change color in production
  • Suitable for various interior parts e.g. door panels, map pockets, seat valances, seat back panels, components, pillars, etc.
  • In-mold graining – multiple grains on one component possible


High-grade PU RIM material produces high quality and cost-effective surfaces.


  • Great design freedom
  • PVC-free
  • Multicolored skins possible
  • Short cycle times
  • Low material input due to closed tools
  • Skin thickness can be freely defined
  • Applicable with Johnson Controls’ own PU recipe
  • Good low temperature airbag performance



Consumer driven combination of virtual information & physical instrumentation on the same level of visual perception. Moveable pods with shaped displays for flexible and situative information presentation. The information views change as the displays are shifted upwards or downwards


  • Convential cluster dial area could be used for projected virtual images
  • Effective & ergonomic usage of space for high amount of information
  • Increased ease-of-use
  • Exclusive & sophisticated appearance, 3-D effects possible
  • Minimal package for displays


This concept-solution for the MDG includes the MDG core module, a 7” high resolution TFT display and the HMI terminal controller as an embedded system. The solution provides wireless connectivity and via display a common user interface for mobile devices. 


  • Flexible wireless Bluetooth connectivity for personal & nomadic devices like multimedia, communication & navigation
  • Increased ease-of-use, enhanced safety
  • Consumer driven storage for personal & nomadic devices
  • Sophisticated high resolution 7” TFT display as common user interface for nomadic devices


Enhanced value and improved usability by advanced HMI electronic integration and design. Reduced components by touch screen technology


  • Cost effective touch panel technology
  • Touch sensor built into the glass
  • Mechanical switches replaced by touch function
  • Thin module design due to light guide and LED backlight
  • Highly sophisticated, user friendly HMI
  • Appliqué technique enhances perceived quality, 3D effect enhances usability


source: Johnson Controls