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The Drive Towards User-Centred Engineering in Automotive Design

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Falling sales in Europe and increasing global competition is forcing
automotive manufacturers to develop a customer-based approach to
differentiate themselves from the similarly technologically-optimised crowd.
In spite of this new approach, automotive firms are still firmly entrenched in
their reliance upon technology-driven innovation, to design, develop and
manufacture their products, placing customer focus on a downstream sales
role. However the time-honoured technology-driven approach to vehicle
design and manufacture is coming into question, with the increasing
importance of accounting for consumer needs pushing automotive engineers
to include the user in their designs. The following paper examines the
challenges and opportunities for a single global automotive manufacturer
that arise in seeking to adopt a user-centred approach to vehicle design
amongst technical employees. As part of an embedded case study, engineers
from this manufacturer were interviewed in order to gauge the challenges,
barriers and opportunities for the adoption of user-centred design tools
within the engineering design process. The analysis of these interviews led to
the proposal of the need for a new role within automotive manufacturers, the
“designeer”, to bridge the divide between designers and engineers and allow
the engineering process to transition from a technology-driven to a usercentred


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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