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Obesity crisis hits car manufacturing industry

The ongoing global obesity crisis is becoming so severe car manufacturers have started to make bigger vehicles to accommodate for expanding waistlines....

Admin
|Oct 24|magazine8 min read

The ongoing global obesity crisis is becoming so severe car manufacturers have started to make bigger vehicles to accommodate for expanding waistlines.

Luxury car maker BMW has implemented a project called ‘Plump My Ride’ and is using 800 volunteers who range in size to test how driving ability is affected by obesity and weight problems.

The BMW study is looking at how the manufacturer can adapt its cars to make movements such as looking over the shoulder while reversing and getting in and out of cars more comfortable for drivers.

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According to Ralf Kaiser, from BMW's ergonomics team, the results of the study will enable the company to manufacture a car which will be used and driven comfortable by 95 percent of people.

He told the Sunday Times newspaper: “People are getting more obese and we want to find out how that limits their range of motion and how our vehicles can adapt to the changing needs of our customers.

“We know that a lot of overweight and obese people have problems in daily life, and in the car this starts with getting in and getting out.”

BMW have already introduced parking aids to its vehicles, most notably an in-car screen which shows the area into which the driver is reversing.

Kaiser added: “In general, these aren’t sporty people. We already have things like the parking distance control, which shows obstacles on a screen when you are reversing.

“For someone who can find it difficult to turn 140 degrees to look behind them, they can now just look at the screen.  

BMW is not the only car manufacturer looking to make its cars accessible to bigger drivers.

Honda is planning to introduce bigger buttons to its cars to make them easier for people to use with chubby fingers and over the past few years it has made its car seats up to two inches wider.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to give its drivers more room when they are getting in and out of its cars, Porsche has fitted electrically powered steering columns that rise when the car’s engine is turned off.

Additionally, Mercedes is hoping to offer larger drivers extra support when they are getting out of their vehicles by installing stronger above-door grab handles.

Over the past 50-60 years, cars have increased in width by more than a foot and have become almost twice as heavy as they were in the 1950s.

Estimations published in the medical journal The Lancet suggest that by 2030, approximately 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women in Britain will be obese.

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