For Mazda, ideal driving starts with an optimal driving position.
Vehicle Testing & Research Department
There is a strong relationship between responsive driving and the driving position. Engineers at Mazda, including Tomoniro Otsubo and Hiroki Uemura, have spent more than 10 years studying this relationship.
The engineers thought hard about what is meant by an optimal driving position, and made steady efforts that included assessing appropriate angles of human body joints.
The dedication of those engineers has become a core philosophy of Mazda’s car development today.
Human-centric car development: enabling driver’s natural operation.
What’s the first thing you do when you get inside a car and sit behind the wheel? The most likely answer would be checking and adjusting your seat and the steering wheel’s position. We met an engineer who really cares about the optimal driving position. His name is Tomonori Otsubo, a member of Mazda’s Vehicle Testing & Research Department. He has long taken a leadership role in years of research and study on the optimal driving position that’s at the heart of Mazda’s car development philosophy. “I went around different organizations in the company and asked the same question – what’s essential to making a better car. That was more than 10 years ago. After listening to many people, I reached a conclusion. Everything boiled down to the driving position”, says Otsubo.
“The question is, where do you place the driver? The placement affects the car’s layout and that involves engine, tires and cabin. If you start with the driver and place the accelerator pedal, brake pedal and steering wheel in positions that are natural to his/her body, it means ease of operation and also safer driving for the driver. That made me realize that putting the driver in the right position leads to easier operation and safer driving, and that is a part of Mazda’s Jinba Ittai driving.” A comfortable driving position is the foundation of Mazda’s ideal driving. With that in mind, Mazda has since embraced a “human-centric approach” to development philosophy, which changed the way cars are developed for the better.
A three-step process for achieving an optimal driving position.
The first thing Otsubo did was to give a completely new thought to the driving position. Otsubo says, “The human body has great capabilities to adapt, so we are capable of using complex tools to a certain extent. But forcing the driver to adapt him/herself to their car can be a physically stressful experience, and could increase the likelihood of driver error. It also means that the driver cannot maximize his/her abilities. So my first step was to create the best-possible conditions for driver.” A development group currently headed by Otsubo has been working to achieve an optimal driving position by using a three-step process.
Ongoing pursuit of optimal driving position: letting drivers thoroughly enjoy driving
Otsubo says that driving in an optimal driving position allows the driver to experience how well a car is made. That puts more pressure on the engineers, but once a car’s proven to be excellent, they feel a great sense of satisfaction.
“I’m proud to say that we are dedicated to an optimal driving position because we want our customers to thoroughly enjoy cars that we have spent a lot of effort creating for. I ask all of our customers to get into the optimal driving position and feel our Jimba Ittai driving with all senses”, says Otsubo with full of smile.