At one time, Ford would make a clay model of a car. The user would then sit in the clay model as they figured out if everything is in the right place.
Nowadays, they have the Cave Automated Virtual Environment (CAVE). Using Virtual tracking and 3D technologies, the user gets to see 4 walls of site – so engineers can determine whether the user can see and reach all around them.
Even with newer technologies like in-car DVD players and panel readouts on the top of the car. After all, you wouldn’t want those cool add-ons to inhibit your lines of sight.
The 3D view can have the user grab the virtual steering wheel. Engineers can then see first-hand the ergonomics.
The best part about the CAVE is it has reduced prototype models and cut out 6 months of production. So costs are lower and cars can be produced faster.