Jeff Stout of Yanfeng: The Inside Story

“Exterior design gets them in the vehicle. Interior design keeps them there.”

That may be an old truism, but it is likely accurate.

Consider—what if you’re in the market for a new car and see something that really looks awesome. You know that you’d be proud each and every time you walk up to it in your driveway. You know that you’d be proud to have it in your driveway so your neighbors can see what incredible taste you have.

So you open the door, climb inside, get behind the wheel and—meh.

Nothing special. Maybe underwhelming.

So you figure that this may not be the best choice. After all, while you’re going to see the outside of the vehicle for a minute or two as you approach it, you’re going to be looking at—and using—what’s on the inside for hours on end.

Interiors matter.

A whole lot.

And as the transportation industry moves toward a state where there may be less ownership and increased use of ride hailing, what is going to make the most difference between using Service L and Service U may be the interior execution and amenities.

Yanfeng is a global supplier, with more than 240 branches and some 64,000 employees networked around the world. It specializes in interiors, seating, cockpit electronics, passive safety and more.

Yanfeng XiM 20 concept model: determining the elements of the interior moving forward. (Image: Yanfeng)

Jeff Stout leads global research into technology and mobility for Yanfeng. (To the point of the wide span of the company’s operations, he has an office in Holland, Michigan.)

One of the areas that he and his colleagues are most interested in is what electrification and automation are going to mean vis-à-vis automotive interior development.

For example, in an EV, where there is certainly a consideration when it comes to using stored energy, they are looking at improved thermal management approaches, such as using large interior surfaces—from door trim panels to headliners—as heat sources rather than relying on the blower of a conventional HVAC system.

When it comes to autonomous driving, there are a range of considerations, from monitoring driver awareness for Levels 2 and 3, to how do you assure that the interior of a vehicle is sanitized in shared vehicles so that people are willing to climb in one that someone has climbed out of. (In this case, one of the answers is UV light.)

Stout talks about these and other topics on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Pete Bigelow of Automotive News and me.

It is an hour-long, wide ranging discussion that goes from the inside of vehicles to the market at large, to an analysis and assessment of what’s happening now and what could happen in the not-too-distant future.

And you can see it here. —gsv

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