Why do auto manufacturers insist on showing us cars we’d love to buy, tell us the vehicle will be in production in two year’s time and then fail to mention it again unless we converse with the CEO who will say that it was only an idea? Were they really only trying to see what we might like?
The thrill usually begins with a leaked picture or two, but they are usually pictures of vehicles inside a building, not actually on the road. That is a big clue as to the latest status of a new concept car.
The second line of attack on your senses comes at auto shows, where alongside models with next year’s date, are a special attraction – the concept car they are working on now.
Working the Concept Plan
Hyundai worked this plan very well. They had a roster of quite average cars. They needed to liven up the news and views about their vehicle making, so they turned to concept cars. Alongside such basic autos as the Accent and the Elantra, they always showed you their cars of tomorrow. Often this would mean a sports car and with Hyundai’s low pricing plans, you thought you might get to buy a sports car at a knock down price because it was from Hyundai. Okay, they did eventually give us the Hyundai Tiburon (called the Hyundai Coupe elsewhere) which was a nice auto to drive, but it was still for families that liked a sporty shape. It’s now modeled as the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and you won’t need Japanese import insurance to get one as it’s a Korean manufacturer.
The rage these days is to show you a new auto which will run on a single 3volt Duracell battery usually seen inside an MP3 player. Only you won’t ever see it; maybe your children will. Manufacturers, who all need to be in the latest green/eco features magazine, suggest that they are building the world’s most eco-friendly auto with tomorrow’s technology. The race now is to see if that will be a hybrid, a plug-in or a water fueled vehicle. At least they’re not suggesting that a solar powered car is ready and going into production in the next ten years.
Concept vehicles are often quite ridiculous. Have you noticed how they sometimes appear on a show without wing mirrors or wipers? You will need both if you are going to drive it on the road so why show an auto without either?
They do allow creativity and without it, the auto market wouldn’t grow. Designers need time to practice on cars of the future. You only have to look at vehicles styled in the sixties to see the general trend of shape and size. Pick any decade since and you’ll see all manufacturers changing their styles to fit in with the rest. One decade curves are in, the next boxes are special.
Some vehicle makers will say that without letting their creative teams run wild, we wouldn’t have some of the autos we see on the roads today. The Fiat Multipla gave you good reason to believe that shape designers had gone completely mad. But maybe they hadn’t because a few million people actually purchased one.
You have to remember that concept cars are simply ideas. This gives the designers the chance to discover new approaches to design and technologies. The opportunity exists to create ideas that might not yet be technologically possible or present an auto that’s so far removed from anything you have seen before that a lot of marketing will be required to get the car sold in the showroom.
No Crash Testing Required
Early designs don’t need to be crash tested; they are simply style tested. If they don’t like the way a feature works on a current model, they can show us a version without doors or roof and you will accept it as a concept car.
One Auto That Made It
If you were at an auto show in 2007, the Chevrolet Volt might have kept you talking for weeks afterwards. The idea that you could simply plug the vehicle into a socket at your home, after a day’s drive, was almost unthinkable. Nevertheless, the Volt is now on our streets.
Showing the concept gave the manufacturer time to restyle the auto and change its features after feedback from the public. If you compare the original pictures to today’s road model, there are significant body changes, but mostly it’s still the same auto.
That model proves that concept cars can become a reality, and with high production numbers too!