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Mixing Ingredients of Safety and Convenience

April 06, 1993|PAUL DEAN

Despite the universal nature of the habit, Trevor Creed, an interior design director for Chrysler, believes that automobile manufacturers should pay no particular homage to wolfing at the wheel.

Cup holders, he says, are about as far as the industry needs to go in acknowledging that people on the move "stop at fast food outlets, go in to eat and bring their coffee out.

"Beyond that, we don't accommodate or even encourage eating in a car."

Vehicles where the accent is on country and leisure, however, are a different cup of tea. They give designers much food for thought. So, many vans have oversize and irregular-shape holders for Texas-size coffee mugs, bottles of Evian, 32-ounce Big Gulps, even square cartons of milk and juice.

Expect to find such conveniences, plus trays, in full-size Chrysler vans where, notes Creed, "you can dine quite elegantly."

Jerry Hirschberg, vice president of Nissan Design International in San Diego, also believes in safety before feeding faces. Redesigning sedans into snack bars would mean cars will cost more and "there will be more sliding, folding, flimsy things in front of you and that's just not safe. And they will rattle."

Still, he says, auto builders could do a little more with what they've already got:

"Larger holders for soft drinks, maybe as an option to replace the ashtray. You could also have a modular, built-in trash container . . . maybe arm rests made of double-walled plastic to keep things warm or cold."

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