22 January 2013

Development of Children-Friendly Vehicle

How many of us get pissed off when our kids stained the interior of our "reasonably-priced" car, thanks to the beige interior for some pseudo-luxury ambiance? Or you can see the vomit just disappear into the seat fabric? Or the toy's sharp edge tear out the stitching and scratch the plastic trim part?

Luckily car maker nowadays are a bit clever. The seat fabric are now water repellent, and it is rare to find to an RM50k (read family-bound car) to be trimmed in light hue. The plastic trim too can be made sturdier, more resistant to scratch by cleverer texturing.

Ford too is up for the game. After being an innovative player by totally eliminating the B-pillar for an ease of entry (read HERE), it is apparent the Ford B-MAX has been designed with kids in mind too. Ford has now tried to make that job easier for mums and dads by “child-proofing” the new B-MAX.

Engineers subjected the new B-MAX to laboratory tests that simulate the toughest treatment that children and pets can dish out, including soaking materials in milk and fizzy drinks; testing fabrics with a “mace”; and pounding plastics with a heavy rubber ball.

Samples of all leathers and fabrics used in the Ford B-MAX’s interior were tested for stain resistance and ease of cleaning after being soaked for 24 hours in the liquids and being smeared with soil and grease.

Engineers also tested resistance to damage that can be caused by abrasive zips and fasteners found on children’s clothing and bags. The “mace test” used a metal ball with needle-sharp spikes to brush fabrics 600 times and replicate the effect of snagging zips and studs. Engineers also carried out a special test to repeatedly rub the seat material with Velcro.

Impact tests – conducted at temperatures as low as -30 degrees Centigrade when plastic is more brittle – used a rubber ball 10 times heavier than a regulation football to ensure that plastic parts could withstand bumps and knocks. Fabrics were also rubbed 60,000 times in a 17-hour non-stop wear test; metal spikes were scraped across plastic parts to test scratch resistance; and carpets were checked for durability on a special test rig fitted with rough abrasion wheels.

Is the car in our market up to this standard yet? Let's make something simpler first, like ensuring there is sufficient cupholder for the rear passenger, not by hiding them inside the rear armrest which eliminate the cupholder itself when there is a third occupant in the rear seat.


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