Gilbert, K., Mandadapu, S., and Cindric, C., "Defining In-Vehicle Location and Functional Attributes of a ‘Button-Style Electronic Automatic Transmission Shifter’ Using DFSS Methodology with Customer Clinic Approach," SAE Technical Paper 2017-01-1131, 2017, doi:10.4271/2017-01-1131.
The implementation of electronic shifters (e-shifter) for automatic transmissions in vehicles has created many new opportunities for the customer facing transmission interface and in-vehicle packaging. E-shifters have become popular in recent years as their smaller physical size leads to packaging advantages, they reduce the mass of the automatic transmission shift system, they are easier to install during vehicle assembly, and act as an enabler for autonomous driving. A button-style e-shifter has the ability to create a unique customer interface to the automatic transmission, as it is very different from the conventional column lever or linear console shifter. In addition to this, a button-style e-shifter can free the center console of valuable package space for other customer-facing functions, such as storage bins and Human-Machine Interface controllers.This paper will investigate customer preferences around the layout, in-vehicle placement, and functional attributes of a button-style e-shifter. The Design for Six Sigma methodology was employed to act as the framework for this study. This team defined relevant customer requirements and preferences which pertained to the transmission shifter interface. Functional attributes and regulatory compliance criteria for the button-style e-shifter were identified. The team then designed and conducted a series of customer clinics to gather feedback and preferences on button-style e-shifter placement, function, and interface attributes. These studies included visibility in vehicle, customer reach, gear layout of the shifter and tactile feel of the customer interface. Where applicable, a Customer Loss Function (defined as using customer data to define the inflection point where the customer finds objection to a design attribute) was created to define customer preferred reach zones and limits. The results of this study were the basis for a design guideline, which is to be followed by both styling and engineering when incorporating an e-shifter into a vehicle’s interior environment.