VAN BUREN TWP., MI – Visteon introduces its latest concept car, the e-Bee, which explores personal transportation in 2020, envisioning changes in modes of ownership and more diversified usage patterns.

The concept car, which uses a Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle as its basis, also brings together all of the supplier’s latest technologies, ranging from concepts still in the advanced development stage to others already commercialized.

“There are two themes to e-Bee: simply city and flexibility,” says Guillaume Becourt, designer-Auto Envision Group at Visteon. “It is designed for an urban environment with just the right amount of content. People do not want to pay for what they do not want.”

To illustrate its flexibility, Visteon designed the e-Bee to accommodate car-sharing with two specific customers in mind: a 60-year-old male and 25-year-old female. The e-Bee stores the preferences of each driver in the cloud and retrieves them when the user enters the vehicle.

These preferences define the look, colors and layout of the interior lighting and the human-machine interface, as well as the greeting, climate conditions and message presentation. A personal avatar accompanies the individual into the car.

“Everything will follow you through the cloud and be replicated in the car,” Becourt says.

Whether the user owns or is sharing the car, he can bring inside the cabin detachable personalization items such as cupholders, wireless charging devices and cameras.

The e-Bee concept on display here has a cup holder that snaps onto the rail that runs down the cabin’s tunnel, sliding fore and aft for the preferred position, while a tablet holder snaps the device securely to the passenger-side dashboard.

The e-Bee adapts to the preferences of regional customers through three different interior “skins,” or removable trim layers, targeting the tastes of drivers in Europe, Asia and North America. The layers can be swapped out after showing wear-and-tear.

But perhaps most dramatically, the e-Bee removes the climate-control unit from the forward cabin and places it under the hood. The move shaves weight from the interior and greatly increases forward cabin space by eliminating the center stack and cross-car beam. It also reduces driver distraction, Visteon says.

Without the cross-car beam, the airbags are repositioned to the headliner, driver displays and controls occupy touchscreens to the left and right of the steering wheel and the passenger seat becomes fixed, eliminating adjuster mechanisms.

The left-side driver display shows vehicle controls, such as the climate system, while right-side display shows connectivity, such as emails and text messages. The displays are positioned to minimize glance time away from the roadway.

A head-up display in the windshield contains the speedometer and the center display shows navigation.

A panamorphic (full-cinematic) 180-degree camera replaces the rearview mirror, which leads to elimination of the glass in the rear window, a weight-saving idea that alters the second-row experience and could open the door for aerodynamic enhancements to the rear exterior of the car.

The e-Bee individualizes the driving experience by giving each of the vehicle’s four passengers their own door-mounted control module, with which they can set their own climate conditions. The headrest-mounted audio system allows each passenger to listen to his own music.

“The key was to bring the same level of interactivity to each passenger,” Becourt says.

A premium was placed on using recycled, bio-based resin and natural-fiber hybrid materials, Visteon says, as well as recyclable expanded polypropylene materials, to reduce weight.

The supplier also employs its thin-film over-molding and “InSkin” processes for decorating interior plastics without gaps.

A unique honeycomb dashboard design houses turn-signal lights, a light-emitting-diode lighting matrix technology from the supplier called “Meta-HMI.” The purpose, Visteon says, is to connect lighting to the HMI to improve the passenger experience.

The design also reinforces the name of the car, which evokes the sociality of bees through its emphasis on community and connectivity.

The e-Bee will be on display for Visteon customers at its headquarters here through the end of the month, after making its North American debut at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The car made its world introduction at Electronica in Munich in November.

jamend@wardsauto.com