Developing a cockpit for commercial vehicles

Bertrandt's design modelling department produces a new trade fair exhibit in collaboration with Continental and SAS Automotive


Modern design, indirect ambient lighting using LED, diffuse ventilation systems and other features were incorporated into a complete cockpit module by the Design Modelling department in Ehningen. At the request of automotive supplier Continental, the team worked closely from June to September 2012 on designing and developing a cockpit module for the future commercial vehicle market. On the basis of initial design sketches and a comprehensive list of technical features, the project team produced a high-quality complete solution for future commercial vehicles in the form of a cockpit exhibit. The cockpit had its premiere at the IAA Commercial Vehicles motor show in Hannover in September 2012.

Developing a complete new product

Continental supplies assemblies such as instrument clusters, displays and electronic components for both cars and commercial vehicles, together with camera systems for trucks. In collaboration with its business partner SAS Automotive, which has more than 20 production sites for car cockpit modules throughout the world, Continental aimed to transfer this philosophy to the truck environment. This was the catalyst for the two global players to approach the design modelling department of the Bertrandt Technikum and commission a cockpit system, including design development services. Work began with a simple sketch which was enhanced and refined over the course of several weeks in close collaboration with the customer to produce a presentable product. A hardware version was then created by the modelling department on the basis of Bertrandt's CAD files.


Different stages of development

Using the available sketches, the Bertrandt design team fine-tuned and optimised the surfaces to produce a high-end finish, while always taking the technical constraints into consideration. Together with Continental and SAS Automotive, Bertrandt created a concept consisting of several modules, including the glove compartment, for example, with different variants which could be exchanged as required. After the design data had been approved, the individual modules were produced by means of HSC milling and a variety of rapid technologies, and then assembled together with the electronic components, which included optical fibres with their control devices and the display modules and control units provided by Continental. After the basic model had been completed, the team turned its attention to the details. The instrument panel was decorated with leather-style seams and a wood-look finish was created by a painter specialising in murals.

Highlights of the exhibition presentation

One of the most striking new features of the interior of a high-end commercial vehicle is the diffuse, indirect ventilation for driver and passengers. The air is distributed evenly and pleasantly in the vehicle interior via ducts behind the instrument panel which have no visible air outlets. Another highlight of the new cockpit is the ambient lighting. Stateof- the-art optical fibres have been incorporated into the dashboard. The two optical fibres are continuous and create no areas of shadow. In addition, their colour can be changed from the control panel. All the RGB shades are available and a remote control can be used to adjust the colour and light simulations, which range from flashing to constant effects.


Exhibited at the IAA Commercial Vehicles motor show

Continental presented the cockpit at the motor show with the aim of highlighting tomorrow's developments today. The response of the market to the new design and the innovative technical features was overwhelming. Many photos were taken of the cockpit and published in the technical press. At Continental's request, Bertrandt continued developing the commercial vehicle cockpit to the stage where it was ready for volume production.


Comprehensive service package from Bertrandt

The major benefit for customers of the design modelling department at Bertrandt in Ehningen is that it offers all the necessary services under one roof. Bertrandt provides a complete package ranging from design surfaces and colour and trim requirements through to implementation. "Our key advantage is that we can network all the assemblies and provide the necessary coordination and implementation services to meet our customers' requirements. It is unusual to find all of this in one place," explains Franz Jerg, Head of Design Modelling and Rapid Technologies in Ehningen.


The cockpit lives on

Continental plans to continue developing the cockpit module in order to showcase future visual and technical features at exhibitions and roadshows.