‘Real People’ Desires Vs. ‘Tech Geek’ Assumptions

Some traits may be good, some bad but “they are what (Americans) are articulating” about themselves, says design executive Jeff DeBoer.

Steve Finlay, Senior Editor

April 13, 2016

2 Min Read
Americans ldquowant to jump over tall buildingsrdquo DeBoer says
Americans “want to jump over tall buildings,” DeBoer says.

DETROIT – Design executive Jeff DeBoer ticks off American personality traits, some seemingly positive if a bit self-congratulatory, others kind of negative and sounding like what one might hear at an overseas anti-U.S. rally.

“We’re a can-do nation,” DeBoer, a vice president at consultancy Sunberg-Ferar, says during a presentation at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exhibition here.

There’s plenty more: Americans pride themselves on individualism, shop ’til they drop, love big SUVs, want more control even when they aren’t in control (“It’s no coincidence, the U.S. has the strongest military in the world”), sometimes flout rules (think speed limits), never read instruction manuals and “want to tell a vehicle what to do,” not have it the other way around.

Also: “Americans love super-heroes. They want to jump over tall buildings. They don’t want to get stuck in traffic.”  

His company put together that national profile based on consumer surveys. Although perhaps painting with a broad brush, DeBoer says they are things to think about when designing vehicles for the U.S. market.

Whether admirable or scornful, the attributes are self-descriptive. “They are what (Americans) are articulating” about themselves, he says at an SAE session entitled “Design with Consumer Acceptance in Mind.”  

It’s a matter of what “real people” desire as opposed to what “technology geeks and industry insiders” think they want, says a synopsis of DeBoer’s presentation. His firm’s automotive projects have included instrument clusters, center-stack electronic controls and third-row seating environments.

The home of the brave is not free of people with fears. For example, DeBoer thinks some young people are reluctant to get their driver’s licenses not because they are so singularly endeared to their smartphones, but rather because they are afraid to drive.

“Your job as a developer is to reduce fear,” he tells his SAE audience.

He heralds the advent of self-driving vehicles in part because they promise to reduce human stress levels. Done right, they also “should make us all Eagle Scouts,” he says.

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