Manufacturers testing wider cars for swingbellies

Broad in the beam? Get a Beemer

Luxury car makers BMW and Porsche are trialling extra wide cars in order to cater for the growing backsides of their customers.

As their clientele's contact zones increase the manufacturers aren't just making the seats wider, they're making the whole car wider. BMW were revealed to be running tests on making cars more comfortable for fatties - getting 800 volunteers from thin to podgy to use cars checking for how fatness affected a driver's ability to look rearwards and how easy it is to get in and out of cars. The Telegraph reports that the strategy is called Plump My Ride.

Car size has steadily increased over the decades: iol Motoring notes an girth increase of 25% over the years in a standard Ford. In 1953, a Ford Prefect was 1450mm wide, 2011's Ford Focus is 1850mm. Ford seat cushions have stretched too from 460mm long in 1953 to 580mm in 2011.

"People are getting more obese and we want to find out how that limits their range of motion and how our vehicles can adapt to the changing needs of our customers,” Ralf Kaiser, a member of BMW's ergonomics team, told the Sunday Times. “We know that a lot of overweight and obese people have problems in daily life, and in the car this starts with getting in and getting out."

Other luxury car makers have reportedly been making adaptations for the chunkier customer too - including reinforced grab handles on Mercedes, and larger dashboard buttons on Hondas intended to make it easier for people with fat fingers to operate the radio controls. ®

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