Home When You Design for the Average You Limit the Most Ergonomics Done Right®

Written by: humantech on January 30th, 2014

by Bryan Picco, AEP

No cars are made equal—or at least made to accommodate all people equally. Take, for instance, sports cars. Here is a video of me trying to squeeze my 6′ 5″ frame into one at the Detroit North American International Auto Show. Note the areas where the car does not fit:

–  The door handle height is too low

–  Limited door clearence

–  Limited clearence between my knees and the steering wheel

–  Lack of adequate chair adjustability (both to slide the chair back and recline)

– The top of the windshield blocks my view and I have to look over it to see forward

It’s safe to say that I might be getting a mouth full of bugs while cruising down the interstate with the top down – and it would be impossible for me to ride with the top up. When you design for the average size person, you limit the most.

2 responses to “When You Design for the Average You Limit the Most”

  1. Jon Francis says:

    I understand the need to “fit the car to the driver”, but with the massive fixed costs related to the automobile industry, it would be extremely difficult/expensive to develop a fully adjustable car design. At some point the designers have to design for a certain “top-end” and then allow for adjustability for everyone below the “top-end”. Very few manufacturers could remain in business under a fully customizable design structure. Although they may be OK if their customer purchasing analysis shows that the heights of the typical buyers of these types of vehicles are not usually this tall.

  2. Bryan Picco says:

    Those are all valid points Jon. You are correct when you say that typical vehicle buyers are not as tall as I am. And you are also bang on when you say designers have to establish “top-ends” and allow for accommodation within it to meet a certain price point. For example, I sat in a $110,000 Mercedes roadster that day and I had no problem fitting into that car. That being said, it is up to the designer to make sure that the set these top ends correctly.

    It appears that the manufacture actually chose a “low-end” (i.e. designed for the smaller driver) in a couple key areas. I do not think it is a good idea to have some drivers not capable of turning the steering wheel or see out the front of the windshield. At the least the chair could have pump down to lower the driver (I know that Mazda can do this because I drive a Mazda3).

    These decisions were probably made in an attempt to save on size and weight (these cars are made to go fast after all). And as a result, the company designed-out potential buyers.

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