Issue: Nov 2008


Seeing clearly, safely and stylishly



by Nick Palmen

Automotive glass has become an integrated part of design, with innovations in its manufacture creating new opportunities. These innovations are part of the OEM tool-kit as manufacturers strive to meet consumer demand for greater comfort, safety and audacious designs. 

One of the leaders in the design of glass is Saint-Gobain Sekurit. Bruno Pouillart of Saint-Gobain Sekurit International spoke to Automotive Industries (AI).

AI: What are the new glazing trends?

Pouillart: More and more there are vehicles where the windshields wraps around the A-pillar, offering to the driver a panoramic view in addition to very exciting car design. At the same time, the windshield is continued up the roof area, creating new feelings like well being, openness, freedom and comfort. These new features combining panoramic view and openness of the car to the outside are being investigated very intensively. Given that both will massively change the design of the complete vehicle body, the development of such cars requires high technical skills and time for implementation.     

AI: How do you design acoustic glass to stop the sound from the wind and road?

Pouillart: Standard laminated glass consists of two glass panes, plus a PVB interlayer. An acoustic glass consists of two glass panes, plus a PVB interlayer with a sound insulating core. There is no change in weight, thickness, or stiffness. Acoustic glazing for both the windshield and sidelites gives OEMs the possibility for differentiation through better acoustic comfort. High and low frequencies noises coming from the engine and the wind are reduced, which allows for better communication inside the vehicle. This positively affects functions like voice control, hands-free speaking systems, mobile phones in general, and of the course the communication between the passengers. At the same time, negative effects on the driver, such as stress and tiredness through noise are decreased.

AI: How important is auto glass for the style and comfort of the passenger?

Pouillart: Your car is a reflection of your own sense of style. The auto glass we choose is no exception. Along with a focus on security and comfort, Saint-Gobain Sekurit has developed a range of glass that lets the car owner to add a personal sense of style to the vehicle. Choose a shade of dark tinted glass to set off your sunroof. Create a "dark tail" effect by tinting only the rear passenger and back windows. Or take total control with electrochromic glass that lets the passengers to change the shade with the twist of a dial. 

AI: How does your new anti-heat range help to prevent heat from building up?

Pouillart: We created an entirely new range of glass designed to prevent heat build up. Called anti-heat, our range of products fully answers to the various thermal situation that end users face. Several types of anti-heat glass are now available. Each keeps interior temperatures low in the hottest weather, creating more comfort while increasing the life span of upholstery. Anti-heat glass reduces the need for air conditioning, saving money on fuel consumption and better protecting the environment thanks to the reduction of CO2 reduction. 

AI: What about safety and security?

Pouillart: Laminated glass delivers a double advantage. Not only does it help keep occupants inside the vehicle during an accident, but it also protects from dangers on the outside. It takes a thief 10 times longer to penetrate laminated glass compared to standard tempered glass.

SGS strongly recommends the use of laminated glass on the other glazed surfaces of the car, such as side windows, sunroofs and backlite, to offer a whole protection.
Until a few years ago, the use of laminated glass applied on sidelites was limited to high segment vehicles. It is now available in medium car segments, either as standard equipment or as an option. This democratization from luxury car segment to medium car range has a strong impact on the evolution of the number of pieces. For 2007, and without counting the windshields, the market in Europe was roughly 1.6 million pieces. The same market in 2011 will be about 2.146 million pieces.
AI: For the celebration of its 60th anniversary, Ferrari invited its sponsors, partners and suppliers to present the new 612 Scaglietti with electrochromic sunroof manufactured by Saint-Gobain Sekurit. What makes the new generation electrochromic glass-roof unique?

Pouillart: During the January 2005 Detroit motor show Ferrari launched the first car in serial production equipped with an electrochromic sunroof. Two years later, Ferrari's 60th birthday was the occasion for the brand to produce a special series of 60 units of the 612 Scaglietti, all equipped with Electrochromic 2 version. 

More recently, at the Geneva Motor Show 2008, the 612 Scaglietti was used to inaugurate the new One-to-One Personalization Program, which allows every customer to personalize this flagship car. Each V12 flagship now boasts the electrochromic panoramic roof. The Saint-Gobain Sekurit electrochromic roof enables drivers to control the desired light intensity, from clear to dark and vice versa, while keeping a total transparency. The thickness of glass is 6mm for a total weight of 12.8kg. 

AI: What advantages does electrochromic glass offer?

Pouillart: In the automotive industry everyone is fighting to introduce on the market products that will offer to the users comfort, safety and functional innovations. The first player that succeeds in this field creates differentiation and consequently gets a competitive advantage. Laminated electrochromic glass fulfills all the conditions in the area of atmospheric comfort, safety and innovation.

Electrochromic glass allows variable control of the sun’s energy transmission from 4% to 40% of light transmittance and from 2% to 20% solar energy. Laminated Electrochromic glass’ memory also allows the glass to maintain the darkest setting while the car is parked (and turned off), in order to help keep the interior of the vehicle cool and to protect the car’s interior from the sun’s damaging UV radiation.

AI: Will electrochromic glass soon be ready for use on other glass surfaces?

Pouillart: For applications in sidelights and backlights of normal passenger cars, EC glazing is not yet feasible due to different technical requirements for such glasses. However, these problems will be solved and then we will see EC also in this domain. In the small segment of armored glazing, we will see EC sidelights and backlights sooner, because here the standard technology employed for roofs can be used.

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