Johnson Controls develops and manufactures the instrument panel, seating system, door panels and acoustic parking system for the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The new A-Class - not just easy on the eye

Burscheid - Drivers of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class have something to look forward to. A high-quality interior awaits them that feels as good as it looks. In addition to the comfort that is a trait associated with Mercedes-Benz, drivers will also take note of the harmonious design of the interior as a whole. Johnson Controls, one of the world�'s leading suppliers of automotive interior systems, interior electronics and batteries, played an active role. The company was not only responsible for the instrument panel, seating system and door panels, but was also involved in the process of jointly developing part of the acoustic parking system.

Passengers�' first impressions are of a harmonious and well-crafted interior. The design of the door matches that of the instrument panel in every element. The front armrests have the same surface finish as the instrument panel. An equal amount of shine and grain, plus identical lines and use of forms create a smooth overall impression. Gap dimensions and positioning are optimized, colors matched. The company�'s early participation in the automotive manufacturer�'s development process was an important factor. "Consumer research studies have shown that not only how the interior looks, but also how it feels contributes to the overall impression of value. In accordance with Mercedes-Benz�'s specifications, not only the upper section of the instrument panel, but also the knee area is furnished with a Soft-Touch finish that is also an important factor in the overall appeal of the interior", says Detlef Jürss, General Manager of Johnson Controls�' DaimlerChrysler Business Unit.

New processes for a sophisticated look and feel

Johnson Controls has developed a cost-effective production process for Soft-Touch. As a result, the instrument panel and the glove compartment now also get a look and feel that was previously found almost exclusively in the upper middle vehicle segment. Johnson Controls created the instrument panel�'s high value appearance through a single-stage production process that ensures reduced gaps. It is known as direct back foaming of a PU (polyurethane) surface skin.

Reduced gaps are ensured in the production of two-tone instrument panels as well. Johnson Controls uses an optimized spray technology for this purpose, in order to produce two-tone components of the same quality and a precision that can be reproduced in series production. As a result, additional connecting processes are unnecessary. A further advantage is that both the different colored parts fit together exactly, so that the transition is visually appealing and does not have to be concealed behind a decorative trim strip.

Johnson Controls also found an innovative solution to produce the A-Class�'s instrument panel carrier. The company used a new injection molding process with glass fiber-reinforced thermoplastics. As a result the carrier has very good mechanical properties, such as strength and stability, and a high integration potential, one example of this being the hidden airbag door.

More comfortable and ergonomic seats

In addition to the instrument panel, the seats in the A-Class have unique features. Besides the dynamic seat design, Mercedes-Benz and Johnson Controls have together paid particular attention to comfort and ergonomics. Men and women between 1.60 and 1.95 meters in height are guaranteed comfortable seating. Results of seat pressure analyses and dynamic tests in Johnson Controls�' test laboratory led to the use of foam resins and materials that not only make it possible to sit comfortably, but also provide good lateral support. People that are shorter in height can use the tilt adjuster to make the seat cushion flatter and thus adopt an optimum ergonomic seat position in relation to the steering wheel.

A multi-contour system in the seat back is also available as an optional extra, which increases lateral support and supports the back. It consists of air cushions with pneumatics that adjust individually to the occupant. Furthermore, the lumbar support alleviates fatigue by supporting the lower spine.

Safety is a focal point of the vehicle. There is a side airbag in the seat back. The seat also has an active headrest.

Johnson Controls developed this technology and integrated it into the seat back in order to prevent whiplash injuries in the event of a rear impact.

Flexibility and storage space in the automotive interior

Suitable storage options are also an important feature in automotive interiors. If desired, the front passenger seat can be folded forwards and the seatback can be used for storage. Johnson Controls also implemented the manufacturer�'s requirement for flexible solutions, by making it possible to increase the cargo volume with just a few movements, for example. Thanks to its lightweight construction, the front passenger seat can be removed effortlessly. Additionally, there is a 60/40 split in the rear seat bench. Both rear seat cushions and the rear seat back can be removed. Another feature is that the whole rear seat bench can be folded over to create a level cargo floor.

Convenient parking using "PARKTRONIC"

The "PARKTRONIC" acoustic parking system is available as an optional extra. It offers greater safety and convenience when parking by providing the driver with both a visual and acoustic warning of collision with an obstacle. The very flat component integrates seamlessly into the center of the instrument panel and the rear of the headliner. It is visible in the rear view mirror to allow for easier reversing into a parking space. Johnson Controls has developed a universal quality design in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz: the use of black tinted glass as the surface material ensures that the component is independent of the color of the interior, providing a cost-effective solution for many Mercedes series.

"Whether they opt for the standard equipment or special equipment, passengers will greatly enjoy the new A-Class vehicle", said Detlef Jürss.

Photos are available at www.johnsoncontrols-press.com.

Further information is available from:

Johnson Controls GmbH

Automotive Group

Astrid Schafmeister

Industriestraße 20-30

51399 Burscheid

Tel.: +49 2174 65-3189

Fax: +49 2174 65-3219

E-Mail: astrid.schafmeister@jci.com

Johnson Controls GmbH

Automatie group

Ina Longwitz

Industriestraße 20-30

51399 Burscheid

Tel.: +49 2174 65-4343

Fax: +49 2174 65-3219

E-Mail: ina.longwitz@jci.com

Johnson Controls, Inc. is a global market leader in automotive systems and facility management and control. In the automotive market, it is a leading supplier of seating and interior systems and batteries. For non-residential facilities, Johnson Controls provides building control components and systems and facility management services.

Johnson Controls (New York Stock Exchange: JCI), founded in 1885, has its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company�'s sales for 2003 totaled US$22.6 billion, the Automotive Group worldwide generating US$17 billion of this figure and Europe accounting for US$5.9 billion. The European headquarters is in Burscheid, Germany. The company�'s product portfolio also includes instrument panels/cockpits, door systems, overhead systems, interior electronics, electrical energy management and engine electronics.