Driving, working, and relaxing – three activities that are set to merge together in the digital, connected, and sustainable vehicles of the future. With this in mind, Continental has developed close to the perfect vehicle interior. Visitors to the IAA Mobility event in Munich can experience the future of vehicle interiors inside the AMBIENC3, a concept vehicle in which everything is designed and imagined within a shared blueprint: stylish, light, and robust surfaces for the floor, walls, and ceilings, the seats, lounge, and tables; natural, subtle and bright colors; warm, clearly defined lighting effects and unobtrusive sounds.
The AMBIENC3 houses driving, working, and relaxing within a “third space”. The vehicle is
brimming with new surface solutions made from innovative and sustainable materials. Speaking of
sustainability, in keeping with the trend for upcycling, the AMBIENC3 is based on a VW T2
microvan. Already a vehicle of rich emotional charm, the T2 now also provides a meeting point for
retro appeal and future direction. “With the AMBIENC3 we are connecting a globally renowned icon
of the automotive world with new, intriguing surfaces and future-focused technologies, whose
attributes assist driving, working, and relaxing as effectively as possible and distinguish them
through color, design, and material,” says Ralf Imbery, Global Director Innovation, Transformation &
Design at Continental’s surface experts. “With the AMBIENC3 we are demonstrating our expertise
in terms of sustainability, design, functionality, ‘third space’ development and customer-centricity. It
sees us bringing together key drivers for the future of the mobile interior.” Focus on sustainability
Continental has used natural and renewable raw materials in the development of the surfaces, as
well as recycled and reclaimed materials, but avoided any compromise in quality: “Passengers in
the AMBIENC3 can breathe freely thanks to low-emission, low-pollutant materials. Light surfaces
also help to lower the vehicle weight,” underlines Imbery. “This reduces energy consumption – and,
by extension, CO 2emissions – and therefore also increases the driving range of electric vehicles.”
Natural, subtle, bright colors, plus gently flowing forms are defining elements of the AMBIENC3
interior and give it a cozy yet modern feel. The interior helps motivate passengers to work, but also
encourages them to relax. Buttons and switches are nowhere to be seen. Although the functions in
the AMBIENC3 are always intuitive to use, there are no permanently visible controls. Shy
technology is the key here: in “off” mode the functions in the surfaces are invisible at first glance.
Design and function go hand in hand Other innovative highlights of the Continental concept vehicle include a light and sound concept that creates different moods, and heatable materials. Made using functional printing methods,
these can generate heat in seconds. Other surfaces in the AMBIENC3 are distinguished by special attributes such as optimized soiling characteristics, maximum abrasion resistance, and even self-healing in the event of damage.
Continental also has an eye on the megatrend of autonomous driving with the AMBIENC3. By the
time fully automated driving has arrived – if not before – we will be using time spent in a car for
other activities besides steering, accelerating, and braking. Alongside the driving zone, the new
concept vehicle therefore also offers working and relaxing areas, each with its own approach to
design and materials. And as we focus inwards, so the surfaces employed here will become ever
more important. This will ultimately lead to an upgrading of vehicle interiors; they will need to be
more visually appealing and the surfaces should also provide a haptic experience. The different
activities will be enhanced with mood functions such as light and sound. The concept underpinning
this fusion of living and working areas in a vehicle is known by the term “third space”.
Customized solutions, innovative technologies
The AMBIENC3 sets new standards, not least in customer orientation. With solutions and surfaces
that can be customized using digital printing techniques, Continental is presenting automakers with
a host of options when it comes to tailoring vehicles to their customer’s individual requirements,
upgrading interiors with new and surprising functions, and ensuring connectivity.
Featuring technologies developed by Continental, the surfaces in the AMBIENC3 stand out as
genuine all-rounders. For example, staynu (i.e. “stay new”) technology makes surfaces more dirt
resistant, easier to look after and more robust than ever. As the name implies, this technology
helps the material to stay (and look) “as new” for longer. Material equipped with this protection is
used for the driver’s seat in the AMBIENC3. Stains are no longer an issue, and the material is long-lasting, low-cost, and environmentally friendly.
Other surfaces in the AMBIENC3 use laif technology, which delivers outstanding breathability – i.e.
it allows air and water vapor to pass through – and an exceptional soft feel. An agreeable side
effect of this new technology is that the breathable surfacing provides passive temperature control.
Offering the look and feel of real leather, surfaces with laif technology provide an excellent
alternative for which no animal need give up their life.
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