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Chrysler 200C's premium interior features an open pore wood with a layered edge treatment. The wood flanks the instrument cluster, the center stack, and is also on the door trims.

Creating Chrysler 200's interior identity

The 2015 Chrysler 200 midsize sedan’s floating center console design with a pass-through storage area may have staying power beyond this Chrysler Group-first application.

“It could develop into a Chrysler brand-specific visual icon. If it resonates well, we might entertain it in the future,” Klaus Busse, Head of Interior Design for Chrysler Group LLC, said during a one-on-one interview with Automotive Engineering at a March 2014 media ride-and-drive program for the 200 in Louisville, KY.

The all-new 200 midsize sedan’s rotary dial electronic gear shifter was the design conduit for a center console with pass-through storage area.

“When you do a normal shifter—whether it’s a manual or an automatic—it’s like an iceberg,” Busse said. “You only see the tip of the iceberg, but there’s a big unit underneath the surface that occupies all that precious package space.”

The floor console’s storage space includes a stow zone underneath a dual cupholder unit that Busse describes as having “furniture-grade” sliding mechanisms for forward and rearward movement.

“That’s only possible because we have a true partnership with engineering where we have this common vision. They help us execute it to the highest expectation of our customers,” said Busse.

In a previous interview with Automotive Engineering, the 200’s Chief Engineer Doug Verley said that the sliding cupholder unit is indicative of a detail-focused interior. “The precision in how this unique mechanism moves the cupholder unit is remarkable. It’s definitely not disappointing,” said Verley.

(For more comments from Verley, read “All-New 2015 Chrysler 200 debuts in Detroit” at

Abundant stow space makes the 200 sedan a leader in its class. According to Andy Love, Senior Manager of Chrysler 200 Product Marketing, Chrysler Group LLC, “The Chrysler 200 has 1055 cubic inches of interior storage volume, while the next closest competitor has less than 800 cubic inches of storage volume in the cabin.”

From another design perspective, the wood trim that surrounds the 5- or 7-in full color thin-film transistor (TFT) reconfigurable instrument gauge cluster and the center stack’s 8.4-in color touchscreen for the UConnect infotainment system conveys visual strength. While the bronze walnut matte finish wood is also emphasized on the door trim, design and engineering nixed an early plan to put the chosen open pore wood across the length of the instrument panel.

“When you sat in the [interior] buck, you would see this line right where your eyes looked through the windshield,” said Busse. “At the end of the day, it’s all about a safe driving experience, and part of that is to avoid anything that would reflect in the windshield.”

From addressing potential problems to refining design concepts, designers and engineers at the Auburn Hills, MI, technology center frequently talked throughout the 200’s development.

“We are still a very nimble company. Yes, we expanded after bankruptcy. But we’re still a very small company and that allows us to be very efficient with how we get together. We believe in co-location. You don’t have to call a meeting.

“Everyone working on the console is within a three- to four-minute walking distance. Of course, there are unavoidable meetings, but it’s mostly stopping by a person’s desk and quickly talking about [an issue]. If everything was a meeting, you’d occupy 40 hours out of the 50 hours you work per week,” said Busse.

Other than the decision to limit the usage of the real wood on the instrument panel, Busse said other design concepts made it to production.

“In hindsight, it’s almost like I have to pinch myself because everything else made it,” said Busse.

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