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Nissan boffins' touch of comfort

2011-03-09 18:56

ALL ABOUT COMFORT: Nissan hopes to boost the interior comfort levels of its vehicles by studying our reactions to different sensations.

YURI KAGEYAMA

YOKOHAMA, Japan - Nissan is studying sensations such as smoothness and warmth for making handles, seats and other interior parts to differentiate its cars from rivals.

The company gave a demonstration to reporters at its Yokohama HQ of innovations that focus on tiny, almost quirky, details such as minuscule bumps on plastic "leather" that supposedly give a feeling of luxury to the touch.

Japan's No.2 automaker calls such efforts, which began in 2009, "Life on Board".

"It's about turning the study of how people work into a science," senior manager Naoya Fujimoto said while stressing that it was not about cutting costs but instead about raising the perceived quality of less-expensive vehicles.

Among the offerings are aircons that moistursze the driver's skin and seats that are easier to get into and out of.

Competition is intense among the world's automakerse. They are all tackling innovations for interiors but a focus on such minute details - and with such fervour - is less common.

CREATURE COMFORTS


Some textures can give an illusion of softness associated with luxury so tiny, barely visible, bumps are added to plastic handles small cars, Nissan explained. Seats in the Leaf electric car warm only those parts of the seat that make contact with the passengers' thighs and buttocks to make people feel warm then then the heat is turned down to conserve energy.

A demonstration of such a seat against a conventional one quickly showed the difference; the Leaf was a clear winner.
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