Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

As an extension of last night's thoughts, not only is it important to make use of available space and to place things in a certain area that makes the most sense, but HOW you place it in that particular area is also very important. Digging into the human psyche for a moment, if it isn't intuitive how a certain part of the vehicle is placed (and easy to remove/put back into place) the customer is less likely to use it properly if it is a burden to remove/replace it.

A good example would be the spare tire and jack placement. I drive a lot of miles whether it be from my daily commute (55 miles each way), or the various road trips I make, I have had the bad fortune of having to change a lot of tires along the way. I can't say how many times I've been frustrated by having to remove/replace the jack and spare tire simply because the way in which the tire was held in place, how the jack fit, and having to replace the interior liner in the case of the cars I've owned versus the trucks I've owned (most times the spare just ended up in the bed, rather than under the truck).

Of course in the case of off road vehicles, ground clearance is also an issue here, so placing the spare somewhere easy to access and in an area that allows for more ground clearance will be something we will have to weigh our options on if we decide to manufacture an off road capable vehicle.

Also, since this particular example of having a necessary item in the proper place also impacts the aesthetics and overall personality of the vehicle, we will have to put a significant amount of thought into the placement of such an item and determine what trade-offs result and which are acceptable, as in any decision making process.

Do we put the spare on the back of the vehicle like a Jeep Wrangler, Land Rover etc.? If it has a bed, do we dimple the side of the bed for the tire (and compromise payload space)? Do we build a custom rack for the tire which can also be used to hold other things inside the bed, like the tool kit I mentioned in my last entry (See tailgate rack below from "Project Heavy Metal" from Dirt Sport Magazine)? Do we still put it under the car, or in the under bed box which I also mentioned in the last entry?

Surely, this is something a lot of people never consider when they think about the features of their car, but as an engineer, this simple, often overlooked detail plays into both the personality and functionality of the vehicle and deserves a significant amount of attention as a result.

Just another one of the "small" details the Prototyping Engineers at Local Motors will be trying to nail down to ensure that there is a "place for everything and everything is in its place."


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