Aging in China and its impact on vehicle design

Zhao, Chao (2008) Aging in China and its impact on vehicle design. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This study contributes to the growth of design knowledge in China, where vehicle design for the local, older user is in its initial developmental stages. Therefore, this research has explored the travel needs of older Chinese vehicle users in order to assist designers to better understand users’ current and future needs. A triangulation method consisting of interviews, logbook and co-discovery was used to collect multiple forms of data and so explore the research question. Grounded theory has been employed to analyze the research data. This study found that users’ needs are reflected through various ‘meanings’ that they attach to vehicles – meanings that give a tangible expression to their experiences. This study identified six older-user need categories: (i) safety, (ii) utility, (iii) comfort, (iv) identity, (v) emotion and (vi) spirituality. The interrelationships among these six categories are seen as an interactive structure, rather than as a linear or hierarchical arrangement. Chinese cultural values, which are generated from particular local context and users’ social practice, will play a dynamic role in linking and shaping the travel needs of older vehicle users in the future. Moreover, this study structures the older-user needs model into three levels of meaning, to give guidance to vehicle design direction: (i) the practical meaning level, (ii) the social meaning level and (ii) the cultural meaning level. This study suggests that a more comprehensive explanation exists if designers can identify the vehicle’s meaning and property associated with the fulfilled older users’ needs. However, these needs will vary, and must be related to particular technological, social, and cultural contexts. The significance of this study lies in its contributions to the body of knowledge in three areas: research methodology, theory and design. These theoretical contributions provide a series of methodological tools, models and approaches from a vehicle design perspective. These include a conditional/consequential matrix, a travel needs identification model, an older users’ travel-related needs framework, a user information structure model, and an Older-User-Need-Based vehicle design approach. These models suggest a basic framework for the new design process which might assist in the design of new vehicles to fulfil the needs of future, aging Chinese generations. The models have the potential to be transferred to other design domains and different cultural contexts.

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ID Code: 26962
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Popovic, Vesna, Ferreira, Luis, & Lu, Xiaobo
Keywords: Chinese culture, context, cultural meaning, dynamic user needs structure, future younger-old vehicle users, integrated vehicle design approach, older vehicle users, practical meaning, social meaning, travel needs, vehicle design, vehicle meaning
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 24 Aug 2009 04:39
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2017 14:40

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