With 62 percent of American adults now considered overweight or obese, automakers are making seats wider, adding more space to interiors and using bigger virtual mannequins to help design vehicles, according to the USA Today
Although domestic automakers say that they have already expanded seating to meets its heftier customer base, foreign automakers, such as Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Subaru, have all recently added a half- to three-quarters of an inch in seating room on certain models.
Toyota has gone a step further by widening its RAV4 sport utility by a half-inch and its 4Runner, Sienna, Tacoma and Avalon models up to 3 inches.
On the domestic front, Ford Motor Corp. has started using what it believes are the industry’s first set of virtual mannequins depicting nine different body types in computer aided design. The point, the company says, is because the average near-biggest man grew 27 pounds heavier and nearly an inch-and-a-half wider in the hips from 1962 to 2000.
In addition, Ford is also paying attention to making seats more comfortable for its customers by considering the addition of power massage units in the back and cushions of its seats, as well as adding inflatable bladders that will help them fit passengers of different sizes.
The 62 percent obesity rate in America is double what it was in the late ‘70s.