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For casual industry watchers and professional analysts alike, it’s hard not to get swept up in the fervor surrounding concept cars as auto show season rolls ‘round. Fluid, futuristic shapes featuring impossible curves, oddly seductive drivetrains promising freakish levels of performance and high-tech creature comforts— they’re the things that gearheads live for.

But to the rapidly aging Baby Boomer population, a plunging windowline and promises of 120hp/liter aren’t what matters: strong door hinges and louder warning chimes are. So says Automotive Body Repair News (ABRN), which examines (and predicts) the effect of a growing senior populace on the face of car design.

Advances in active and passive safety top the list of retiree-friendly developments, along with primary and secondary controls that are easier to operate for those with decreasing motor and visual skills. Among the ideas already gaining traction are:

  • Easier-to-read gauges
  • Larger handles attached to sturdier doors
  • Advanced snow and ice removal systems
  • Window films to reduce glare
  • Larger control knobs
  • Lane-deviation and blind-spot warning systems
  • Wider, heated seats

Sadly, while on the subject, ABRN fails to address the need for more stringent (and more frequent) driver’s license testing among seniors.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      Easy to read gauges (clear, plain, simple format with large enough numbers/letters to read at a glance) and large knobs/controls are sales features to all customers.

      Much the same as well-designed wrist watches. A clear dial with obvious markings delivers the information faster with less ambiguity than a "busy" dial filled with lots of sub-sets and features. Look at airplane cockpits, even today.

      Knobs are easier to operate with cold fingers or even gloves/mittens. Not everyone (young or old) lives where the heater is a rarely used feature.

      I feel that most seats are already too wide/broad/roomy, and think a range of adjustment or even S/M/L factory options might be a better solution than a "one size fits some, sort-of" approach.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Sorry about the typo above--the correct word is EXERCISE, not my misspelling.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Okay. I have no problem with making gauge clusters easier to read for all involved. Electroluminescent and whatnot.

      But...if you can't read the gauges...even with the aid of corrective lenses...you really should NOT be operating a motor vehicle.
      • 9 Years Ago
      The new Civic, like the Toyota Echo of a few years ago and the Lincoln Town car of many years ago, had a large LED speedometer to appeal to young techies.

      But the folks who really liked the large LED speedos were older people who could read the numbers easier.

      Truth is, you can sell young cars to old people, but you can't sell old cars to young people. As I see it, the only significant concession to us geezers should be in ease of entry and exit.

      Aching backs don't like low coupes--especially if we're asked to contort ourselves to enter the damn things and sit back there for any length of time. Otherwise, design cars as youthful as you want.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Looks like the American manufacturers are following in the doomed footsteps of my old employers at Longbridge in the UK.

      By persuing and eventually getting a reputation for selling to the older market sectors.. the Rover brand became far less sexy or sought after by younger or middle aged "to young for a Rover" products.

      Even though the more recent sporty versions of the products under the MG brand still appealed to these sectors.

      Then slowly over a 20-30 year period the older market sector, retired and stopped buying new cars every few years...then unfortunately they started to literally die off...leaving the company with an ever shrinking fan base!

      Now this isnt the only reason why MG Rover went into administration in 2004 (the last two sets of owners both German and British had a big impact to!) but it was a factor in the slow demise of the Great British Institution.