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Is this the headrest of the future?

This little gem of a split headrest, which featured in the Volvo YCC concept car in 2004, provoked a huge response from women.

The all-female team of engineers and designers responsible for the car were hailed as visionaries — though there was criticism they were reinforcing stereotypes of women as being more bothered about their appearance than their driving skills.

But the ponytail holder was not a vanity item. It was a true lifesaver. In most crashes, the first point of contact for the head is against the headrest. If a woman (or man for that matter) is wearing a ponytail, that small part will push into the head.

Basically, that's the same as having a headrest with a lump sticking out of the middle and into the back of your head. How safe does that sound? And how comfortable for that matter? Women with ponytails have to hold their head in an unnatural position, leading to tensed neck muscles and sometimes compromised road vision.

So why hasn't the feature gone into production and appeared on the showroom floor?

"I can't give a clear answer on that," Volvo's Australian spokesman Todd Hallenback says.

"But I can suggest the idea may not yet be fully tested.

"Volvo Car is very thorough in how it approaches any safety issues and a change in headrest would require exhaustive crash testing prior to its introduction to production.

"The positive reaction to the split headrest surprised many, so I suspect the idea is being investigated and on the agenda for future models."