December 19, 2012

Thoughts on the innovation process
By Simon Harris

The more we participate in innovation, the more we find it is not a destination but a journey; and less about providing answers than about asking questions.

The launch of our e-Bee vehicle concept lays down a new marker in Visteon’s progress as an organisation capable not only of developing innovative technology but also of establishing a clear vision of the context of its use, now and in the future. The e-Bee Project represents advancements in our understanding of how to bring to life provocative and useful concept proposals from available technical and societal research. Based on initial feedback, we believe that in e-Bee we have an excellent tool for customer engagement and for representing Visteon’s automotive intellect.

While innovation is not a rigid process for Visteon, we have found some recurring themes in the subject.

For example, the key challenge in concept creation is not in producing the object itself but in understanding the associated factors: What is the purpose of the concept? Why is it appropriate? Why has it not been done before?

It is also important to look at the background story and to “connect the dots” to build a clearer picture. In conceptualizing e-Bee, we were struck by the irony of the apparent historical shift of the status of the car from social enabler (a means to visit friends) to something that actually limited social interaction compared with the rest of the modern user’s life (the ‘always connected’ lifestyle of phone, text and email being curtailed during the driving process). Of course, for safety reasons this is quite proper – but it tells us something about the essential nature of the rate of change of technology versus personal mobility.

Another tactic we find useful in in the innovation process is to estimate the logical “end game” of any path we are considering – and then to interpolate logical intervening steps. For instance, let’s say that the ultimate aim of a complex user-operated system is a “zero learning curve” – essentially to put its user manual directly into your brain (for want of a better phrase). From this we recognise the first step – more intuitive systems that reduce reliance on written instructions. But let’s take it a step further. How about a system that bases its behaviour on your personality, so that you realise that you already know how to operate it (and how it will behave) as soon as you start? In our e-Bee concept, the Cloud-based persona profiles of the HMI tools are a small nod in this direction – and a starting point for further discussion and exploration.

The e-Bee concept is loaded with innovative features and controls. Yet, the object itself is less important than the message it sends about our approach to innovation. More than anything, innovation is a mindset; it is not what you do, but the way you do it. We will keep cultivating and communicating that mindset as long as our customers continue to value the output.

Simon Harris is a chief designer for Visteon’s global innovation and design team located in Chelmsford, United Kingdom. He has been instrumental in the development of the e-Bee vehicle concept, applying his 15 years of automotive industrial design experience.

November 29, 2012

Demonstrating automotive mobility for 2020 … today
By Tim Yerdon

Have you heard about Visteon’s new e-Bee vehicle concept?

If not, get ready! We debuted this unique demonstration car in mid-November at electronica 2012, the international trade fair for electronic components, systems and applications in Munich.

Representing Visteon’s vision of mobility for 2020, the e-Bee uses innovative technology, including display-based controls and Cloud-centered profile storage, to create a unique and personalized driving experience. It’s a culmination of products and technologies developed by Visteon’s innovation, design, engineering, product development and marketing teams.

We’re running a multi-faceted launch to customers, media and other business partners at key customer events and public trade shows, augmented by a dedicated microsite and social media channels.

A primary reason Visteon engages in advanced development projects is to drive upstream customer dialogue and support new business wins. While the spotlight is on the vehicle, the biggest benefit occurs through collaboration across the company and with our partners, fostering a sustainable culture of innovation.

This project has brought together the best innovations from our climate, interiors and electronics groups. These innovations focus on simplicity, flexibility and frugality – all driven by megatrends that are influencing the automotive industry.

In case you’re wondering about the car’s name: The ‘e’ prefix signifies the concept’s compatibility with electric vehicle platforms. The term ‘Bee’ refers to the behavior of honey bees. Each individual acts as an agent for the good of the whole colony in collecting food and providing information, while bringing incidental benefits for the environment. We draw a parallel between this behavior and the capabilities of our vehicle concept, which gathers and disseminates useful driving-related data, acts as part of a wider mobility-enabling network, and reflects technology and design that are in harmony with the environment.

We welcome your questions and comments about the e-Bee vehicle and we look forward to presenting our e-Bee vehicle to the automotive industry. For a preview of the vehicle and its technologies, check out

Tim Yerdon is always looking ahead to tomorrow’s technology. As global director of innovation and design, he leads a team responsible for translating market trends and “voice of the consumer” data into innovative concepts and first-to-market products. During his 18-year automotive career, he has worked in manufacturing, product development, program management and racing at Visteon and Ford Motor Co.