In an era of super-minis, where car manufacturers and cash-strapped motorists are opting for smaller cars every year in an attempt to save money, it might be strange to hear of plans for super-sized cars. The fact of the matter is, however, that people are getting bigger, not smaller. A large percentage of our population is now obese and these people have different needs than smaller passengers.
Mercedes, for one, is busy running tests on the grab handles situated above car doors. It seems that obese passengers and drivers are finding it ever more difficult to haul themselves out of modern motor cars. The company plans to produce specially reinforced versions of these grab handles for future models.
Ford has recently decided to increase the size of buttons on its cars dashboards, so that drivers with huge 'sausage' fingers do not press a number of them at once by accident. Other manufactures have fitted their cars with steering wheels that are electrically powered so they can lift away from the driver when he turns off the engine, enabling him to exit the vehicle with more ease.
A number of carmakers are approaching the issue in a scientific manner. BMW has signed up a group of 800 'cabin testers' to study mobility inside the average car. This, the company hopes, will help to make sure than future models can accommodate 95% of body sizes.
The fact of the matter is that we are going to pay for all this. Our obesity will thus literally translate into bigger car costs in future.
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