The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Motor maidens drive into a male preserve

Geneva, March 3 (Reuters): Swedish automaker Volvo thinks it has just the cure for an industry dominated by middle-aged men — a concept car designed entirely by a team of women, aimed at female motorists.

Volvo, the European luxury brand of Ford Motor Co., the second-largest US automaker, unveiled the YCC, which stands for “Your Concept Car”, at the Geneva auto show yesterday as an attempt to undo problems linked to more than a century of men designing cars — primarily for other men.

With gull-wing doors, massive alloy wheels and a sweeping glass fastback roofline, the YCC coupe looks more boy-racer toy than previous cars aimed at women such as minivans and Nissan’s bug-like Figaro “ladies coupe”.

But in promoting the car’s design, Volvo may run the risk of perpetuating some stereotypes associated with women drivers.

For example, YCC boasts computerised assistance for parallel parking, along with several features aimed at getting shopping bags in and out of the car more easily.

“It’s got a bumper that goes all the way around so it can take a bit of creative driving,” said design team member Anna Rosen.

She added that the paint is “as easy to clean as a non-stick frying pan”.

And for those women who bristle at suggestions they don’t know what’s going on under the bonnet, well, they can’t even have a look. The bonnet does not open because the car’s engine needs servicing only once a year — it automatically sends a text message to the garage to book an appointment.

But there are design features that men may not have considered: headrests with room for ponytails, a centre console free of a gear shift to make room for handbags, and seat covers that can be changed at whim.

“This is not a statement about sexual stereotyping,” Rosen said. “We wanted to see what would happen when we gave women all the decisions.”

She said the car was designed with urban professional women, many of whom may be single, in mind.

Volvo has no plans to mass produce the YCC at this stage. But it expects many of its ideas will find their way into future cars.

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