The system allows automakers to refresh vehicle interiors in the middle of a lifecycle without additional design, engineering and tooling costs.
Johnson Controls Inc. has come up with a solution to address shrinking vehicle storage space — customized overhead modules.
Even though todays vehicles are getting larger, the storage space is getting smaller and smaller
Johnson Controls Inc. developed a system that allows customized storage in the overhead area of a vehicle. The company’s Overhead Rail system will debut on the new 2004 Ford F-150. It will be standard on the XLT, FX4 and Lariat SuperCar and SuperCrew models
Overhead Rail uses two brushed aluminum rails that are incorporated into the headliner. The system starts behind the rearview mirror and extends beyond the second row of seats and is designed to carry electrical wires inside the rails. Storage, utility or entertainment modules snap on to the rail
Customers can choose which modules they would like included in the system. Standard on the F-150 is a front module with a dome light, DVD player and small and large storage modules, says Rick Arnold, executive director of business development — overhead systems. Other optional modules include:
JCIs AutoVision screen allows passengers to watch movies or play games. The screen flips up when not in use.
Overhead Rail is designed to allow customers to change the modules whenever they like from point-of-purchase and throughout the vehicle’s life cycle. The modules will be available for purchase at Ford dealers and eventually by aftermarket companies such as Black & Decker and Pioneer. Since the modules are lightweight and compact it will be easy for automotive manufacturers, car dealership personnel, maintenance technicians and vehicle owners to remove and install them in a ‘plug and play’ fashion, says Arnold.
The system also allows automakers to refresh vehicle interiors in the middle of a life cycle without additional design, engineering and tooling costs, says JCI. Additionally, it will allow automakers the opportunity to include the most updated infotainment and telematics technology without reworking the vehicle’s interior. On Ford’s system, the rails are silver while the modules are tan. Eventually, different color modules and rails will be available for different vehicle models and additional automakers.
Several other automakers are looking at the system. Since the overhead system needs several inches of space, it fits best in a pickup, minivan, SUV or crossover vehicle. But the space between the rails will always remain the same so aftermarket companies can design accessories for the system.