Yanfeng Automotive Interiors (YFAI) is the global leader in automotive interiors. YFAI is redefining how people relax, work and play in their vehicle interiors today and decades from now. Established in 2015, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors is a joint venture between Yanfeng Automotive Trim Systems Co., Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Huayu Automotive Systems Co., Ltd. (HASCO), the component group of SAIC Motor Corporation Limited (SAIC Motor), and Adient, the global leader in automotive seating.
“Eventually consumers will prefer an autonomous car, no question,” says Han Hendriks, chief technology officer, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors (YFAI). “Driving will be like washing clothes: if you really want to wash them by hand, you can, but most will choose the ‘autonomous washer’ – simply push a couple of buttons and then an hour later, done. You pay for the convenience of spending your time in a different, more enjoyable way. Autonomy is a significant trend and all of our customers are making this part of their future strategies.”
Unveiled at January's North American International Auto Show, Detroit, the XiM17 – Experience in Motion Demonstrator, 2017 – is YFAI’s exploration into understanding the experiences which autonomous driving will enable and entail. It showcases innovations in seating layouts and versatility, smart surfaces, and storage: its floor consoles and seats move to allow multiple configurations for different user scenarios, with four main modes.
Lounge mode  is expected to be the most frequently-used: “85-90 percent of the time, there are only one or two people in the car,” explains Hendriks. “As a result, priority is given to the two front seats: the rear seats can be folded away easily and often, to create more space. The two front seats can adjust all the way back. And when desired, the driver’s seat moves back, the front floor console moves back and the front passenger-side seat rotates to directly face the other seat. This is what we call meeting mode  – it allows great face-to-face communication and interaction.”
Family mode  brings front and rear seats closer together, again for enhanced personal interaction, the rear console moving forward allowing rear-seat passengers a full view of the large display screen in the IP. Driving mode  is a traditional layout with all four seats facing forward; an overhead console houses the starter button and gear-selector, saving space. Linking all four modes is the flexibility of the sliding front floor console.
“Smart surfaces enable key information and controls to be wherever you need them: in the IP area as HVAC controls; in the door, front or rear or both; and in the floor console which can move to any seating location,” says Hendriks. The IP itself is, unusually, touchscreen-free, as it will be too far away from some seating positions; gesture controls for functions such as ventilation supplement the digitised surface interfaces elsewhere within the decorative trim.
Further storage solutions include a slide-down bin for sunglasses, storage in the armrests and IP, and a coolbox with a powered tambour door. For cabin ambience, “there are copper highlights to help suggest a more luxurious interior without over-using typical chrome,” Hendriks notes. “And integrated lighting reinforces which mode you are in. There’s a nice blue colour for autonomous mode, and a vibrant red to signify that you are changing between modes.” LEDs are embedded into the textile-covered walls for a softer effect, and the large overhead screen can also act as a light or show mood-changing images.
“The interior plays a huge role in customer satisfaction,” Hendriks concludes. “This is where you will now spend time doing new things, as you no longer have to control or drive the vehicle. XiM17 is one way of looking into the future, and it also facilitates learning discussions with consumers and our customers.”