Getting into and out of a car is only a brief moment in the process of using an automobile. It usually lasts only a few seconds and, as a physical state of suspension between standing and sitting, is usually not one of great physical sovereignty. In current automotive development, the focus of general interest is primarily on the communication relationship between driver and vehicle, in addition to alternative drive concepts and autonomous driving.
At motor shows in recent times, as in previous decades, a striking number of studies appear at periodic intervals that attach great importance to the subject of entry with spectacularly opening hinged, pivoting, sliding and gullwing doors.
On closer inspection, it becomes apparent that these concepts are intended to achieve one thing in particular at trade shows, in addition to the eye-catching effect: the interior of the rotating automobile remains in the viewer's field of vision for as long as possible without being disturbed. A serious examination of the replacement of the classic door concept is seldom attempted; it often remains a matter of trade show studies. Against the background of autonomous driving, the topic of entry is of increasing interest.
While cars are getting bigger and wider, parking spaces in squares and parking garages are not growing to the same extent. Some of the concepts presented are of little use from this point of view because they are not implemented in a space-saving manner and clearly address the show effect rather than everyday utility. Hinged doors take up a lot of space at the top and usually exceed the headroom available in a garage. Classical and today dominantly widespread vehicle doors must be questioned against the background of the change in mobility, also because their installation space has increased due to safety requirements, the installation of additional components and the opulence of door trim. As a result, the available space for movement is becoming even smaller.
Concepts based on a sliding or pivoting-sliding solution are a conceivable and realistic alternative to this. BUSSE Design + Engineering and CSI entwicklungstechnik, as innovation-oriented development partners, favor this approach and are developing a practical, conceptually and production-oriented solution that can be implemented cleanly for the integration of a new type of door mechanism into the body structure of existing vehicle concepts.
The sliding door - old hat?
The sliding door itself is not new. Primarily used in the rear door area, it appears in many vans of the past years and especially classically in most generations of the VW Bully, where it is also acoustically imprinted in the memory of many people by its distinctive running noise. Its predominant use in the rear of the vehicle is also due to the fact that, as a rule, the rear part of the door runs in an external guide rail, which is detrimental to the aesthetic design of the body. The requirements for a coherent exterior design often prohibit the use of such door concepts in sedans and comparable vehicle concepts.
The solution in detail
The creative achievement of BUSSE and CSI entwicklungstechnik is to fundamentally question the entry concept right down to its effects on the supporting structure, including the roof and B-pillar. The goal is to offer a sophisticated new solution that is nevertheless technically simple and cost-technically feasible.
Together with CSI entwicklungstechnik - engineering service provider to the automotive industry for body-in-white, interior, exterior and project management - the long-established design and product development office BUSSE Design+Engineering designed a new door mechanism that keeps the entry area as large as possible and undisturbed by mechanical components.
Our concept therefore relies on the combination of a column anchored in the body structure as the core component, which supports a running rail that can be swung out parallel to the vehicle flank and on which the remaining travel path of the door runs.
To keep the entry area large, the core structural element of the door suspension is placed between the front wheel and the front door cutout on the fender. This area is generally the most readily available in the package, and the door suspension can be effectively integrated into it both statically and geometrically. Similarly at the rear door: here the core component is located behind the door cutout in the area in front of and above the rear wheel.
The aim is to make all four suspensions largely identical in design and to integrate them into the OEM body by means of individual node elements. If required, these central joints can be supported by additional guides on the upper and lower door edges.
A special feature of the concept is the option of including part of the roof in the opening area of the body. This is achieved either via an additional lifting function or simply by positioning the opening contour above the windshield or tailgate. This makes it possible to further improve the movement sequence when entering a vehicle. Passengers can move their upper bodies into the vehicle interior early and without acrobatics.
Our concept shows that, despite the shift in the door separation contour, a future-generation vehicle with this door concept does not necessarily have to look any different from today.
This solution also opens up further design possibilities for automotive designers. With this door opening, they can give new weight to the process of getting in and out of the car and thus provide a user-centered and new impulse in automotive design that can be derived from the function.
We see the targeted and series-ready further development of central human-machine interfaces from the user's point of view as an essential aspect of modern mobility concepts.