Verso - a System to Adapt Automobiles in Emerging Nations
University of Cincinnati, 2005 - 100 pages
In spite of its popularity, auto-mobility has never been an accessible transportation medium to the majority of the world's population. Big amounts of resources are spent every day to support auto-mobility yet, only about 12% of the world's population has the possibility to acquire a car, and even less has the option to acquire a new one. (Humphrey 122) The automobile however, is still the most desired type of transportation because of its freedom of routes. In this scenario, if automobiles are meant to be the main tool for human transportation in the years to come, it is crucial to promote changes in the way we consume cars in order to ensure that they can be accessed by most people. Lower segments of the population usually have access to older vehicles because of their low cost, however, as they age most of these vehicles retain little or almost no value to offer to their customer and quite often their usage conveys a high price that has to be paid in exchange for the transportation. One way in which automobiles access could be expanded to lower segments of the population is by expanding their lifespan. If cars remain unchanged in the market for a longer time, then the costs associated with their acquisition and operation would tend to be lower. A good example to this is the VW bug in Mexico or the Nissan Sentra. If we can ensure that old automobiles retain their fundamental value as mobility providers, then the lower segments of the population would find value in a platform whose cost of operation is reasonable. This thesis project will explore a possibility to design a multipurpose auto-mobile platform. A vehicle intended to remain unchanged in the market as long as the basic technologies it employs do not change. This basic mobility platform in the form of an automobile will enhance the experience of new-cars and old-cars users by providing them with the basic value of mobility, while letting them adapt their vehicles to their specific needs, and by allowing them to perform this adaptation using a broad range of resources. The context of this project will be emerging nations, the rationale is that the consumption patterns in emerging nations are still substantially different than those observed in industrialized nations, and thus represent an appropriate scenario of applicability for a project like this. Other issues, such as vehicle migration, and the cultural value of aesthetics are also explored and will help to illustrate the value of universal design in auto-mobility solutions. Two topics I studied during my Master's which have expanded my own vision of Industrial Design and have also influenced this project are: first, the need to find sustainable alternatives to the current platform of product fabrication and consumption, and second, the need to de-centralize design out of the first world in order to achieve successful local solutions. I strongly believe that the "United Statesization" of the world is not a viable long term strategy. It is my firm belief that it is important to find alternate ways to do business and create profitability potential doing more sustainable practices appropriate for the conditions of the developing world. This project represents my personal attempt in this direction.
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