Cockpit goes on a diet

A new cockpit design for cars called EcoSpace has been developed by engineers at ThyssenKrupp and Johnson Controls.

A new cockpit design for cars called EcoSpace has been developed by engineers at ThyssenKrupp Steel, ThyssenKrupp Presta and Johnson Controls.

The new design brought together the expertise of Johnson Controls in developing and manufacturing instrument panels and cockpits,ThyssenKrupp Steel’s talent in materials and body work. ThyssenKrupp Presta contributed the steering column and corresponding engineering know-how.

‘The idea was to simplify the assembly process for automakers by offering them a complete single-source cockpit structure that already includes the instrument panel and steering column,’ said Martin Hinz, project manager for cockpit structure design at ThyssenKrupp Steel.

All the automaker then has to do is to incorporate individual components such as the radio and air-conditioning.

The new cockpit is claimed to offer a weight saving of more than 20 percent compared to traditional solutions, while ensuring the same passenger protection.

The key to the new EcoSpace approach lies in a hybrid construction, a composite steel and plastic structure, which made it possible to eliminate half of the cross-car beam.

Since structural rigidity is required in the steering column area, the engineers used steel for the driver’s side in the form of a tripod made from Thyssen Tailored Tube. This is a closed profile tube with load-dependent geometry, to which the steering column can be directly attached.

The plastic, consisting of long fibre reinforced polypropylene, came from Johnson Controls. The plastic is used across the full cockpit width. Air channels, the connection to the airbag and the back of the glove box are integrated directly into the plastic structure. The parts also assume a reinforcing function.

The companies say that the new cockpit design is suitable for all sedans and could be in production with effect from the 2010 model year.

The public will see it for the first time at the 2007 International Motor Show (IAA).