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Are Changeable Interior Colors The Future Of Car Personalization?


2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

2015 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe

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Is your car interior boring you? Do you ever wish you could redecorate it, just like your living room?

Johnson Controls is working on a high-tech version of that concept, according to a new report from Automotive News (subscription required). The company is experimenting with materials that can change colors on the fly.

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The material used is a type of plastic, and is part of an effort by Johnson to find ways to eliminate traces of the previous owner once a vehicle changes hands. Possibly more important in that regard, it's also working on odor filters.

Speaking to Automotive News at a recent conference, Johnson Controls president of advanced product development Hans Hendriks said this technology could be especially useful to ride-sharing services. Individuals who perpetually borrow cars may be interested in something that helps them personalize a space for the brief time they're in it.

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Researchers are currently studying chameleon-like interiors at three technical centers, located in Düsseldorf, Shanghai, and Holland, Michigan. It's part of a $7.5 billion-a-year joint venture with China's Yanfeng Automotive Trim Systems Co.

While a production version of the color-changing interior remains firmly in the "what-if" category for now, the two companies will primarily focus on diving the preferences of Chinese car buyers. So if you're hoping for the day you'll be able to buy a car with a mauve interior, then switch the color to increase its resale value, keep dreaming.

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