5 Ways Cars Would Be Different If Women Had Designed Them

The future of the car is a hot topic, especially after last month's announcement that the US government will invest $4 billion in self-driving technology over the next decade. Thankfully, women are playing an increasingly significant role in defining that future. Mary Barra, as CEO of General Motors, is the most prominent. Seval Oz is another. Formerly head of strategic partnerships at Google’s self-driving car project, Oz now heads up the intelligent transportation division at German auto giant Continental. Discussing the developments in the industry, Seval spoke to Bustle about how the car as we know it today might have been different if women had played a bigger role in its original design.

1. The Desexualized Petrol Pump

"Why do you need to get out of your car, and wield a gun-like instrument to refuel? It seems a rather provocative way of doing things to me," Oz tells Bustle. Instead, Oz envisions a hose-like apparatus that could be plugged into the source through the car wing mirror or otherwise. No pumping necessary.

2. Seating to Frustrate the Paparazzi

"The current seating design in cars is restricting of women's freedom to wear or not wear what they want," Oz tells Bustle. Swivel chairs that rotated on their axis would facilitate getting in and out of the low seating, without exposing areas left vulnerable by wearing a skirt or dress.

3. Scrap The Spare Tire in the Boot

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"Have you seriously ever changed your own tire?" Oz asks. She says that if a woman had designed the trunk of the car, "she probably would have left out the spare tire in the boot and all the unnecessary hardware that goes with it, to create more space for important things like groceries and your kids' sports equipment." With men less likely and generally less comfortable asking for directions, the decision to include all the "fix it" kit is understandable. But the truth is we're likely to phone a friend, or the AA, and ask for help.

4. Less Restrictive Seat Belt

"If a women had designed the safety mechanism for a seat belt, it probably wouldn't have severed her chest in half," Oz says. Instead, Oz suggests a four point harness structure, which is not only safer but also increases range of movement, much like airplane and helicopter pilots already enjoy.

5. Connected Car

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“As human beings, not just as women, we have a desire to be connected. And the car is no different,” Oz says. But what will a connected car look like? Oz describes something like your phone screen, with all the information it brings you, but situated just above the dashboard. With swiping hand movements, you'd be able to turn the heating on when you're on your way home in the winter, or look inside the fridge to work out what you need to buy for dinner. The point is, you won't be busy actually driving the car (the connected car is self-driving) so time now wasted in traffic transforms into valuable task-ticking sessions.