Heading to Germany where Chan’s team is working on tomorrow’s automobiles and the future of passenger comfort in partnership with Saint-Gobain.



When we arrive in Munich, the bell tower of the new City Hall impresses us with its 85 meters. Today, we are going to meet Chan. A vehicle interior R&D project manager for a major automaker, the young 30-year-old man is warmly congratulating his team just as we join him. The meeting room walls are lined with screens. “Like our cars, we are connected,” says Chan with a smile, before talking us through his current projects.

“Our aim is to provide the best travel experience to both drivers and passengers by improving their comfort inside the vehicle,” he starts off. This comfort begins with good insulation that is largely down to the glazing. It must cut out high and low frequencies to increase a sense of calm inside the vehicle, while maintaining a pleasant temperature in summer and winter.“Without ever sacrificing design or aerodynamics,” adds Chan who seeks out every superfluous gram in the seats and doors to reduce fuel consumption and his vehicles’ ecological footprint. “We work with the best OEMs on lightweight glass and plastics to make delicate parts enabling huge design freedom.”

A glass roof providing the passengers with a panoramic view.

To ensure the success of his brand’s revolutionary developments, Chan works closely with Saint-Gobain, as it is renowned for its cutting-edge materials and high capacity for innovation. This afternoon, Chan and his team are holding a video conference with the Sekurit engineers at the Herzogenrath plant, which has just started up production of the low-E roof to be fitted to one of the brand’s prototypes. “This glass roof provides the passengers with an uninterrupted panoramic view while also providing incomparable insulation,” explains Chan. “We really wanted to include it in our new family model to bring back the pleasure of travel and Saint-Gobain is the only company able to deliver this technology.” The result of lengthy cooperation between Chan’s and Sekurit’s teams, it involved “highly detailed work, day-in-day-out,” says Chan.

Talking with the Saint-Gobain engineers on a large screen, Chan turns his attention to the progress made with another joint project' a connected, head-up display windshield, which displays in the driver’s field of vision all instrument panel data. “It acts as a co-pilot, GPS, and policeman when it reminds the driver of the speed limit,” says the project manager with evident enthusiasm. A 4.0 windshield including a deicing and a defogging function to ensure visibility, legibility – and safety – whatever the weather,while also saving on the use of windshield wipers.

“Vehicles are becoming increasingly autonomous,” adds Chan, “with their sensors, cameras and on-board radars. One day, everybody in their car will be free to drive or not. Windows will find other uses – with Saint-Gobain of course – which is reinventing our living – and driving – spaces.” 




Move over head-up display, here comes touch-command glazing. A simple touch of the fingertip can activate numerous functions such as defogging or dimming of the sunroof. The result of two years of research, Touch Control is based on the integration of a tactile sensor in the glass. Sekurit is already working on the next generations that will include sensors to trigger a function by following a finger swipe and even gesture-sensitive sensors.
One millimeter shaved off the thickness of a windshield means a saving of around 4kg. And the associated amount of CO2 emissions avoided. After having successfully lowered the standard windshield thickness From 5 to 4.5 mm in Europe, Sekurit has now trimmed it down to 4 mm while maintaining the mechanical and optical properties. It now aims to push this limit even further by introducing ultra-thin laminated windshields with improved optical qualities by 2019.
Saint-Gobain works closely with all transportation stakeholders. The glazing on the first cross-border light rail service between France and Germany is produced by Saint-Gobain. As is the glazing used on snow groomers manufactured by Italy’s Prinoth. Vetrotech produces heated protective glazing to guarantee thermal and visual comfort for the crews aboard ships sailing in Arctic regions. The SHEERGARD™ radomes used on the next generation of connected Airbus A320 aircraft will provide passengers with new possibilities for in-flight entertainment and communication.


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