British SUV maker Land Rover, owned by Ford, has introduced a women's panel into its product development process, "to ensure the views of female customers have been fully considered at every stage".

The group of women volunteers from across the company will be shown anything from vehicle sections, such as dashboard layouts, through to full vehicle concepts. They will be giving their views on all aspects of future product design and execution.

"This is not about developing cars for one or other sex," said Land Rover's manager of special vehicle operations Anne Youngson.

"It's about drawing on the opinions we have available within Land Rover to make sure we've considered all of our potential customers fully."

The group will start work this week by viewing a suggested new incarnation of a current model. The group will appraise the vehicle statically, trying out the switchgear, comfort and ease of seat adjustments, entry and exit as well as the ergonomics. Their comments will be fed back into the product development process.

Land Rover says that women buyers account for 43 percent share of new car sales in its British home market and estimates their percentage of influence on total car purchases is as high as 80 percent when joint family purchases are taken into account.

Future products will be geared increasingly to catering for customers of either gender and of all ages.

"The types of recommendations we expect the panel to be making are likely to be practical changes that will make the vehicles more accessible to the less traditional buyer," Youngson said.

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