Friday, December 19, 2003

A little something for the ladies

An all-woman design team at Volvo is nearing completion on a concept-car designed by and for women.

What do women want? Storage, parking, ergonomics and maintenance. Their design solutions led to some surprising features:
  • No hood. The front end is designed as one large section, meant to be lifted only by the mechanic. The reasoning is women don’t want to be bothered with maintenance, and the car is designed to be virtually maintenance free (oil change every 30,000 miles). When the car needs servicing, it sends a wireless message to a local service station, which will contact the owner and schedule an appointment.
  • Storage space. The car has wide, gull-wing doors that allow easy access to the space behind the driver’s seat. The rear seats are fold-up, theater-style, which allows more storage space. The emergency brake is electric, freeing storage space between the front seats.
  • No gas cap. The car has a race-car-style fueling system in which the gas nozzle goes in through an opening with a roller-ball valve to prevent gas and fumes from escaping. Window-washer fluid is poured into a reservoir next to the gas tank.
  • Easy to clean. The car has dirt-repellant paint and glass, as well as machine-washable seat covers. The seat covers and carpets come in a variety of styles for a customized interior.
  • Easy to park. The car has a sensor to tell the driver if the car will fit in a parking space. It also can take over the steering to parallel park.

The car has run-flat tires, pedals that collapse to the floor during a crash to prevent leg injuries, and a headrest with a valley down the center for women who wear their hair in ponytails.