Research Papers

Quantification of Perceived Environmental Friendliness for Vehicle Silhouette Design

[+] Author and Article Information
Tahira N. Reid1

Design Science Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109tnreid@umich.edu

Richard D. Gonzalez

Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109gonzo@umich.edu

Panos Y. Papalambros

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109pyp@umich.edu


Corresponding author.

J. Mech. Des 132(10), 101010 (Oct 11, 2010) (12 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4002290 History: Received April 07, 2010; Revised July 30, 2010; Published October 11, 2010; Online October 11, 2010

Quantification of subjective attributes expressed as functions of design variables is a significant challenge in creating product design optimization models. For example, the objective assessment of a vehicle’s environmental friendliness is typically based on fuel economy and emissions. But some design variables such as a vehicle’s silhouette (two-dimensional body shape) may create a subjective perception of environmental friendliness, which may impact consumer preference along with objective metrics. In this paper, we show a method for assessing subjective attributes in the context of design attributes. We focus on perceived environmental friendliness (PEF) and we develop a model of PEF as a function of vehicle silhouette shape variables. The modeling process consists of stimuli development using design of experiments, survey design including direct assessment of the key subjective attribute PEF, elicitation of consumer preference, measurement of purported subjective mechanisms (for the PEF case, whether the design is “inspired by nature”), measurement of respondent characteristics (for the PEF case, environmental attitudes and demographics), statistical analysis of data, and validation. Results for the PEF example indicate that silhouettes perceived as environmentally friendly are the most preferred. Design variables that correlated with PEF were identified and used to generate new designs, which were validated in a follow-up study. Implications of using the general methodology in engineering design are discussed.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Topics: Design , Vehicles
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Figure 1

Flow diagram describing the general method

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Figure 2

Sample silhouette (not from DOE). Points 1–7 were varied; all other points were held fixed.

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Figure 3

Set of 16 vehicles generated using the Taguchi DOE; the 17th vehicle is the 2007 Toyota Prius plant

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Figure 4

Example of rating task survey question. Shown here is a question from the PEF rating task.

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Figure 5

Scatterplot showing the correlation between votes on silhouettes inspired by shapes in nature (IBN) and perceived environmental friendliness (mean ratings on both variables). Ellipses represent +/−1 standard error around the mean, with the orientation reflecting the correlation between the two variables for that vehicle. Thus, the plot shows both intravehicle correlations as well as the correlation across vehicle means.

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Figure 6

Scatterplot showing the correlation between judgments on preference (% mean choice) and perceived environmental friendliness (mean ratings). Number labels were removed from three overlapping points between 3 and 4 on the PEF scale. From top to bottom, the vehicles that correspond to those points are vehicles 8, 12, and 11. Triangular points indicate vehicles shown three times (i.e., vehicles 7 and 13) in the preference task; circles indicate all other vehicles which were shown twice. The preference data were normalized to account for these variations.

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Figure 7

Scatterplots comparing preference (% votes) and PEF judgments for high and low ecocentricity groups

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Figure 8

Examples of vehicle silhouettes developed from the survey data. See Tables  56 for binary code used to create these vehicles.

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Figure 9

Scatterplot showing the correlation between preference and PEF (mean ratings on both variables). Vehicle 19 is relatively higher on PEF than some of the original designs.

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Figure 10

Scatterplot showing the correlation between IBN and PEF (mean ratings on both variables). Vehicles 19 and 20, which are new designs, are rated as more IBN and are relatively higher on PEF than the original designs and the Toyota Prius (vehicle 17).



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