Americans don’t buy small cars because we’re too damn fat. There. It’s what we’ve all been thinking all along. And now a report comes by to confirm our deepest suspicions: we buy SUVs and avoid small cars because our posteriors can’t fit comfortably without lumbar support.
A report from AOL Autos reveals that there’s a connection between our rapidly-expanding obesity rate and a struggle for manufacturers to sell small cars. The number of people defined as obese is expected to increase from 40% to 43% by 2018, according to statistics from Dan Cheng, vice president and partner at business consulting firm AT Kearney. Similarly, sales of small cars like the Mazda2 have dropped 2% since 2008, that terrible year when gas prices were $4 per gallon. They’re at 26% now, and unless people start losing either weight or money (to the gas pumps), they’re not likely to increase soon.
Correlation may not imply causation, as you learned in Freshman Philosophy and a million Internet arguments, but the statements of self-acknowledged obese people drive home the connection. “I want to be environmentally friendly,” said Karen Steelman, a mother whose body-mass index is above the commonly-defined obesity rate, “but unless I am in an SUV these days, I find no pleasure or comfort in driving.”
Another driver surveyed was Robert Dean Cole, who is 6 foot 7 inches and 240 pounds, with a six-year-old son who is nearly 5 feet tall. “Obviously, little cars are not going to be in our future,” he said. “And even if I could actually fit under the steering wheel of the car my next worry would be surviving a car accident. Good chance I won’t be surviving due to my size.” Cole drives a Ford F-150.
Carmakers are working on making their cars more accessible to larger drivers, regardless of size. Ford, for example, is updating their database of human dimensions to include obese adults. Interior design teams use this data to determine key factors such as center console placement, seat controls, roof lines, and sunroof controls, among others. In the end, as well-packaged cars like the Honda Fit can attest, it’s the cleverness of interior packaging that will haul our muffin tops down the road to freedom!
[Source: AOL Autos]