DETROIT -- For those who feel they spend too much time away from home, Maytag Corp. and Ford Motor Co. have come up with a minivan that includes a kitchen, den and laundry room built-in.
The Windstar Solutions vehicle, which was unveiled at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Chicago, is meant to judge customer reaction to car appliances. There are no plans to put it on sale.
But both companies think there might be many customers who would want to cook and clean in their cars.
''In our testing, I think we're going to see that the women generally get it,'' said E. Kent Baker, vice president of strategic marketing for Maytag. ''So many people live in their automobiles. Everyone is on the go today and very starved for time. They want to take their conveniences with them.''
In the Windstar concept, those conveniences include a small refrigerator in back, plus another cold space that doubles as a freezer and a removable cooler for snacks. Want to cook some popcorn? Open the rear liftgate to work the microwave, which is just big enough for one bag. The TV's in the ceiling, Nintendo game plug-ins are on the floor.
For spills, there's a tiny washer/dryer across from the microwave, good for two or three T-shirts. There's also a trash compactor between the front seats and a built-in wet/dry vacuum.
The Windstar also includes a computer that could link to house appliances of the future. A driver could use the system to see how much milk was in the refrigerator before hitting the supermarket.
Ford and Maytag say the basic technology to build vehicle appliances is available; there are similar items available for boats and motorhomes. And they don't rule out the possibility that one or two pieces might make it into production.
''Ten years ago, installing a cupholder was a big deal,'' said Linda Lee, Ford manager of women's marketing and product office. ''Now, you're dead without it.''
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.