New Honda, Perfect Fit or Flop?


Honda is rolling out a car that is specifically targeted toward women. The new Honda Fit She’s is currently available only in the Japanese market. This new car comes in a “pretty-in-pink” and “eyeliner brown” color. The decision to offer the car in the Japanese market was based on the country’s more sex-defined roles. As much as half of all Japanese women stay out of the workforce and those women who do, there is more of a divide in tastes than one might find in Western countries. The car offers features that include a special UV-blocking window glass so that women concerned about their skin don’t have to worry about wrinkles while driving, as well as, a “plasmacluster” climate control system the maker claims can improve skin quality.

U.S. and European auto industries are hesitant to release the vehicle into their respective markets because previously when manufacturers tried to target products directly to women this proved an unfavorable outcome for the auto industry.  Automakers are not necessarily ignoring the needs of women. Both Ford and General Motors, among others makers, consider features and attributes of new products looking for ways appeal to women and avoid aspects that men would notice.

Before the auto industry releases this vehicle into the U.S. market they must understand their customers. Applying Quality Function Deployment, women customers do not want to be a singled out market. Women’s needs can be satisfied by including features where men and women both benefit; for example, providing larger storage space to put purses or briefcases, and including a UV-blocking window glass in all cars because men need protection against skin cancer too. Outside of Japan, women car buyers want to be treated like “one of the guys.”

What sort of quality control should the U.S. adopt in order for this vehicle to be favorable among women? Do you think a car targeted toward women has the potential to be successful in the U.S.?

@Twitter: “Running late, no time for coffee #drivingtowork”

These days everybody has a cell phone…Not just any cell phone, most of us have iPhones, Droids and dare I say it…Blackberries. All of these devices have texting, tweeting and facebooking capabilities. Due to this “on-the-go” potential, more and more users are doing these things while driving. Since then, the number of car accidents has gone up substantially. In 2011, 23% of auto collisions involved cell phone distractions, in other words, that’s 1.3 million crashes.

Automakers believe that voice control is the solution that will permit drivers to safely text, tweet and update their Facebook pages to inform the world of the amazing fact that they are in the act of driving to work.  The problem with the notion of voice control as a cure for distraction is that it still is a distraction.

MIT researchers are working with Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center to find the answer to the issue. Their goal is to measure the workload involved in the operation of a voice-command system.

The researchers equipped a car with cameras to monitor drivers’ eyes as they watch the road. Test subjects are also wired up with a heart-rate monitor and an instrument that measures galvanic skin response (like a lie detector) to assess their stress levels. The team will study the drivers while they perform physical controls and voice controls. This would allow them to predict the deterioration in driving ability that will result.


The issue that arises is how necessary are these studies? Do we really want to include something in a vehicle that allows for these types of capabilities?