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Kansei Engineering Product (1)

Mazda Miata

Courtesy of Glenn Mazur


Mazda learned of Kansei Engineering from the project team members who frequented the ergonomics laboratory at Hiroshima University where Kansei Engineering research began some 30 years ago.


When the car manufacturer decided to develop a brand new sports car with the young adult market in mind, the project team followed the Kansei Engineering processes and began by video taping as well as taking pictures of young drivers maneuvering, steering, and controlling cars. This is based on the psychological observation that human feelings often reveal themselves in people's attitude and behavior.

Based on the video recording and pictures, the project team extracted young drivers' behaviors,
Mazda Miata sports car, an example of Kansei Engineering productsdescribing each behavior on a card, assigning a keyword to it, and then grouping the cards in a tree structure. Some of the similarities identified in this process were transformed into the design specifications that became physical characteristics.

For instance, one card said "my own way of controlling" - a typical feeling expressed by young drivers. This Kansei was examined in an ergonomic experiment in which subjects (young drivers) were asked to evaluate which length of a shift lever best fit this Kansei feeling. Using a 10-point scale, Mazda subjects concluded 9.5 cm as the best fit for "my own way of controlling."

For the feeling of "runs fast," it was determined that the engine response time was the most important factor that embodied this Kansei. This meant the timing of combustion following the push of the accelerator must be as short as possible. This led to a redesign of the engine.

The Kansei process also uncovered young drivers' love for a particular sound of engine thrust. For this requirement, Mazda's project team made a computer simulation of the engine sound and conducted an evaluation of "thrust sound". They found that the low frequency sound with odd cycle combustion noise had a very close relationship with this Kansei. This finding led to the development of an exhaust pipe fitting that produced this engine characteristic. Finally, the new sports car was named "Miata".


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