DETROIT - There may be some truth to the stereotype image of pickup owners and their dogs.
Truck owners are more likely than car owners to have a dog in the vehicle, with the passenger seat and console areas being the most popular riding places for dogs, according to an Internet survey for Johnson Controls Inc.
Like other suppliers, Johnson Controls surveys consumers to give their designers a better understanding of consumer behavior patterns. Such surveys help determine what design issues should be addressed. "The biggest opportunity is in materials, where to put them and what type," said Susan Kennedy, Johnson Controls' director of consumer research. "We don't want to have something like a cupholder that a 200-pound St. Bernard would crush."
Researchers study why occupants select certain positions, what influences their selections, the age of the person occupying specific seats, travel purposes and destinations. And, yes, how often the family pet comes along for the ride. For example, the survey found that of the times dogs ride in small pickups, they sat in the passenger seat 50 percent of the time and next to the driver in the middle console area 9 percent of the time.
The seating patterns in minivans are different. There, Johnson Controls discovered that a person sits in the front passenger seat four out of 10 times. Minivans often carry large amounts of groceries, and 22 percent of the time it was 10 to 12 bags.
Gongos & Associates Inc. of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., conducts the Johnson Controls surveys. D
Gary Anglebrandt is an Automotive News special correspondent