How important are idea vehicles in today’s automotive industry?

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Concept cars have been an automotive trade staple for decades, but what position do they play in today’s automotive world?

From the daring and delightful to the outrageous and downright weird, concept vehicles are designed to catch the attention and are, as a rule, daring, futuristic and aesthetically pleasing.

They will never see automotive production or a showroom, but idea vehicles have been an essential factor in carmakers’ strategies for many years, and manufacturers spend considerable quantities developing them.

In an setting of intense business competition and tight profit margins, the concept car is a method for carmakers to gauge public response in the course of new designs, in addition to creating media buzz and beneficial PR.

‘Concept automobiles are still essential to manufacturers as they permit them to take a glance at new designs and also, in plenty of cases, new manufacturing processes,’ acknowledged Andy Cutler, UK automobile editor – forecast values at Glass’s.

renaultSource: Bertone

‘Manufacturers will also use idea automobiles to showcase future design paths and then they will choose the suggestions from the basic public, allowing them to make more-informed decisions as regards to design adjustments. Much of this early design is now done with AI however in terms of showcasing the future to the masses, there’s nothing like having an excellent idea automobile at a present,’ added Cutler.

Volvo’s 1979 Tundra idea, designed by Bertone, by no means noticed production with the Swedish brand, but did find favour with Citroën. The French producer used the design concept as the premise of the favored, multi-million-selling Citroën BX.  

Some memorably audacious ideas have included the Peugeot Onyx, the Ferrari 512 S Modulo, and the Ford GT90, all of which never entered production. Despite this, many idea models possess elements and design options that make their means onto production models.

Talking to the BBC again in 2018, the then DS design director Thierry Metroz described the concept automobile as a ‘development accelerator.’ With the automotive trade moving away from standard inner combustion engine-powered automobiles and in the path of electrical, hydrogen and autonomy, many manufacturers are embracing the spirit of the concept car to showcase future plans.

From idea to reality

Swedish electric-vehicle producer Polestar has illustrated how an idea can capture the public’s creativeness. The company’s Polestar 6 idea acquired a vastly optimistic response and successfully compelled Polestar to start a production run.

The Polestar 6 LA Concept has due to this fact been made available initially as a 500-unit manufacturing run, and the 155mph, $200,000 (€208,000) electric roadsters bought out inside minutes. This is proof that idea cars can discover their method on to the street, but prospects should wait till 2026 to get behind the wheel of this particular mannequin.

Whilst Polestar’s roadster may be an unrealistic prospect for many budgets and automotive aspirations, there are examples the place concept models have intently resembled the vehicle which finally ends up on the road.

Sam Livingstone, director at Car Design Research, highlighted that concept automobiles is normally a means of ‘warming up the marketplace’ and underlines that generally the idea can find its way into mainstream manufacturing runs.

‘Perhaps you can virtually go back to the Mercedes Benz SLK, the Porsche Boxster, and even the Audi TT,’ affirmed Livingstone. ‘Those three vehicles came from the core, main German brands that everybody seems to in all kinds of respects, not least design. In the mid-to-late 1990s, these manufacturers very a lot set that template to announce a concept design, which they adopted closely up in a manufacturing type.

‘The Audi TT announced itself to such a breath of contemporary air, which one way or the other was learn and consumed initially as a concept car, and yet was fairly faithfully then translated across into the manufacturing design. The TT exhibits design can push one thing quite exhausting and powerful and excessive, while keeping observe of production feasibility, and, as a consequence of getting had such a response from the market in the media, it was able to help leverage the production aspect,’ mentioned Livingstone.

Today’s producers embrace the spirit

skodaSource: Skoda

Czech carmaker Skoda recently unveiled its Vision 75 concept. At the center of this is the deliberate launch of three new all-electric fashions available on the market as early as 2026, with more to comply with. Skoda is utilizing this concept as a method to tease a model new design language, new brand, and company identity replace.

The Volkswagen (VW) Group plans to make use of the Vision 75 at a particular preview of one of these fashions, with the all‑electric share of the company’s European vehicle sales set to rise to over 70% by 2030. To help this, the Czech carmaker shall be investing an extra €5.6 billion in e-mobility and €700 million in digitalisation over the following five years.

A slightly more blatant embracing of the concept-car spirit could be present in Skoda’s Vision GT. This computer-animated model is inspired by Skoda’s 1957 11000 OHC sportscar and is on present in the Design and Transformation exhibition in Brussels.

Skoda states that the Vision GT idea is designed to ship a ‘clear signal for sustainable sportiness and emotion within the digital age’, drawing on the past and way ahead for the marque to highlight a potential path of the corporate.

designSource: Skoda

Renault has a robust custom of creating concept cars, which frequently intently echo real-world production runs. One of essentially the most notable Renault concepts is the DeZir, an electrical two-seat coupé, designed by Laurens van den Acker, which debuted at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

‘The DeZir was a stake within the floor from the then new design director in a doubtlessly precarious scenario,’ said Livingstone. ‘As a newbie within a fairly old organisation, which was sort of encountering various turbulence and financial difficulties, van den Acker very much put a stake within the floor to make an announcement and achieve this in a optimistic manner.

‘This was not just to titillate and excite people linked to production design, but additionally as a statement of intent from a person and a design group within a wider company to put out their intentions and their course, not just for an external audience and potential patrons, but additionally internally at Renault.’

Recently, the French producer mixed previous with current by way of its all-electric Renault 5 prototype. The authentic Renault 5 was launched in 1972 and by 1980 it was one of the best-selling vehicles in the world. Using the identical full-electric know-how because the Zoe, the manufacturing version of the Renault 5 Prototype is being teased alongside a model new show automotive that might be a contemporary tribute to the Renault 5.

carSource: Renault

Inspired by the world of video video games, the R5 Turbo 3E drift automobile is part of a multimedia idea showcasing Renault’s ‘all-electric future’, featuring collaborations with trend designers and retro videogame aesthetics.

‘R5 Turbo 3E combines ultra-tech design and wilful exuberance with numerous references to the world of car racing and video games. This combination propels the present automobile into modernity and expertise, and it is at the frontier between the true and digital realms. This pure electrical ‘drifter’ demonstrates that electrical automobiles may additionally be fun with unimaginable efficiency,’ underlines Renault design director, Gilles Vidal.

Relevance in a digital world

As nicely as mashing collectively historical past and future, Renault is embracing ideas within the digital world, something that is prevalent across the automotive landscape.

A ‘digital double’ of the R5 Turbo 3E will spring to life in the universe of virtual games in Web3, the decentralised internet the place on-line platforms and companies use a model primarily based on blockchain. A assortment of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) will be available across the vehicle and people who own these digital belongings will be provided unique advantages and rewards.

Today, there is no want to visit a physical area to see concept automobiles and cutting-edge automotive handiwork. As with many things, COVID-19 necessitated the transfer of physical events to an online platform, motor reveals included. Events such because the CES could be loved nearly, and carmakers similar to Hyundai, Audi, and Lucid have embraced on-line platforms to showcase new ideas and expertise.

With an growing risk to see future automotive ideas from the consolation of one’s display, is there still a spot for a physical concept car?

‘Let’s face it, the idea automotive is simply skilled bodily by only a few individuals, and that is actually the case with the interior of the vehicle, which has become a lot more necessary for consumers,’ provides Livingstone. ‘The fact that conventional show cars can be sat in only by a quantity of dozen media folks suggests that it’s really a very poor mechanism to promote new ideas.

‘With the metaverse and different digital mediums by way of which people can eat concept vehicles, animation and so on permits consumers to connect with them just about. There are all types of alternatives, which I do not suppose are really being fully tapped into yet, to have the flexibility to basically take the show car into a brand new space and obtain what idea cars got down to do by means of having a brand-specific statement that’s exciting and interesting for a new future to customers.’

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