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"Can Women Design trucks and SUVs as good as men?"|
NISSAN: (pictured is
the 1999 Frontier, 2001 Frontier, and Xterra)
With female designers working behind the scenes, Nissan's Frontier Crew Cab
pickup became the first truck on the market in 1999 with four full-size doors. Diane
Allen, chief designer at Nissan's U.S. design studio, was then given the responsibility of redesigning the new 2001
compact pickup truck. The result: a number of cosmetic changes that gave the 2001-model a macho, mechanical-industrial look without being so aggressive as to turn off female buyers.
- Allen has been involved in two of Nissan's most successful designs in recent years -- the 2000 Maxima sport sedan and the popular
sport utility vehicle. With the Xterra, her aim was to give the truck some SUV qualities in terms of luxury details. Allen rejects what she calls "the '90s trend to inject softer forms into truck design." Instead, she finds her true inspiration for vehicle design in merging the concepts of sports cars and high-end power tools together. The Xterra became Nissan's first consumer hit in years.
In 1997, Ford Motor Co. created a development team of 30 female engineers (known as the Windstar Moms) to make their 1999
minivans user-friendly for their target market: women with children. At the time, only 8.5% of engineers were women, so having 30 female engineers playing an integral role in the development of virtually every aspect of the 1999 Ford Windstar was a noteworthy accomplishment.
- Ford has relied on its team of Windstar Moms throughout the years, and at the turn of the century, Ford unveiled its new
Ford Solutions minivan. An answer to people's hectic lives and the fact that families spend more time in their vehicles than ever before, Solutions is a vehicle outfitted with a refrigerator, microwave, washer/dryer, vacuum, and other home appliances. Ford teamed with Maytag to create this one-of-a-kind vehicle that is sure to please women and families alike.
The 2000 Saturn CV1
- Kate Zak, brand character design manager for Saturn, designed for the
CV1(a.k.a. Saturn's "first concept vehicle"). This 2000-model SUV was a step outside the box for Saturn and was projected to play a significant role in future Saturn models.
The Buick Rendezvous
- The Buick Rendezvous was designed by General Motors' first female vehicle chief designer,
Liz Wetzel. This was her first Buick product assignment, and GM's first big unveiling since pulling the plug on their 103-year-old Oldsmobile line. Hoping to redefine the concept of "sport utility vehicle," Buick is eager to introduce the first truck-based Buick in nearly 80 years. Wetzel has described it as "a fine leather shoe with a rugged sole." It has a sleek look and a number of unique features, suggesting refined ruggedness for today's families.
DaimlerChrysler recruited an informal group of female engineers and called them the Women's Product Advocate Team in 2000. This group was formed as a voice for female customers in order to create more female-friendly vehicles.
Anne Asensio is a leading female car designer from Europe who was hired by DiamlerChrysler in 2000 to add her unique
perspective to their domestic line of vehicles. According to the Detroit News (May 9, 2000), her feminine perspective plays some part in her success. "You are a designer first, and you design with your personality," she said. "But it is an advantage to understand what a woman expects in a car."
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