Development of Innovative Design Concepts for Automotive Center Consoles 2006-01-1474
The objective of the paper is to present a unique design approach and its outputs: the design concepts for automotive center consoles for a near term SUV that can be produced in 2-3 years, and the second for, a more futuristic SUV, that could be produced in 10 or more years. In the first phase of this two phase project, we benchmarked center consoles from a number of existing and concept vehicles, analyzed available data (e.g. J.D. Power customer feedback surveys), and conducted studies (e.g. survey of items stored in the vehicles, item location preferences in the console area) to understand customer/user needs in designing the center consoles. In the second phase, we provided the information generated in the first phase to four groups of student teams who competed to create winning designs of the center consoles. Each team included one engineering student from the University of Michigan- Dearborn (UMD) and three industrial design students from the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit. Faculty members from both the UMD and CCS guided the students during the entire semester. Engineers from Collins & Aikman were also available for consultations to the teams and provided materials, plant tours, presentations on how designs are developed in the industry, documentation on safety regulations, cost and manufacturing processes. The designers of the team were responsible for accommodating all the requirements in the design and were also responsible for the esthetics and the building of full-size models of their near and far term designs. The engineers were responsible for the feasibility factors. They had to make sure the design was ergonomic, used realistic materials, complied with the safety regulations, and were responsible for engineering and manufacturing feasibility. A panel of industry experts judged the mock- ups, supporting sketches and data and selected winning designs. The paper includes pictures and descriptions of many of the unique features (e.g. multi-function control, lockable storage, pull-out arm rests, extendable purse holder, paper holders, display screen locators, etc.) included in the designs. The project not only created many creative design features for the center consoles in a very short time period but it provided a unique educational opportunity for the students to learn roles of engineers and designers in a multi-disciplinary product design environment.