The life of a concept car is quite the story of hogging the limelight and losing their purpose of existence once their job is done. Despite this very brief stint, concept cars are inevitable and carmakers famously spend millions to make and display them on their stands at a famous motorshow.
Stemming from the brains of designers, when given a free hand, the designs of concept cars are often outlandish, bordering on excellence and uselessness at the same time, as most cars never make it out of the design software in a computer or tablet. In essence, concept cars are a way for designers to breathe some life into themselves. Without restrictions they come up with rather brilliant ideas.
But it must also be noted that designers have to keep it in their minds that some of the design cues will be used in upcoming production cars or even a range of cars for a generation to come. Maybe that is why most show vehicles have too many design elements rummaged into a single body resembling a car, hoping that their bosses would pick one from the lot.
But their work is not over yet. They have to make the car into real-life clay models so that it can be scanned and then parts can be made of materials humans are accustomed to or from those one would laugh at. BMW has in the past made a car with fabric instead of metal, there have been concept cars that have been made of paper and cardboard.
Obviously, manufacturers who use their brains make such cars out of materials such as metals including steel or aluminimum or alloys. Even carbonfibre is used. What that means is that manufacturers have to go to a person who makes glass and ask for one example of a windshield and rear glass. Then, they have to go to an alloy manufacturer to make just four rims, bespoke for the car.
The body panels however are made by the carmakers themselves, for they have at least a press with them unlike other parts that they always sourced from outside. However, some car makers do not even find the need to make the parts themselves for they just ask a firm like Multimatic to do the job for them. Ford gave the entire production work of its GT supercar to the engineering company based at Markham, Canada.
Admittedly, the internals of the car will most probably be shared with an existing model from the manufacturer’s stable as such cars mostly need to drive only to get to a showstand from a truck and back. But that doesn’t stop designers from taking a whole new approach with the powertrain either.
Lamborghini, which is one company that is famous for thinking the impossible (they gave the world the mid-engined supercar mind you), came up with one such concept called the Terzo Millenio. It threw away petrol engines and even the traditional electric powertrain to futuristic supercapacitors. It was a wonderful thing to behold and if there is one firm that can put such cars into production, it will be the guys from Lambo. Just look at their current crop of cars. They are just mad.
When all is said and done, the main purpose of a concept car is to attract a crowd and help manufacturers assess how people take to it. If people really like the design, then manufacturers use it in their upcoming products. It is also a place for manufacturers to test new interior systems and seating arrangements, the latter of which is uncomfortably focusing on people just being passengers and letting the car do all the driving.
I think after a long period of time, car designs have started to look fresh due to the onslaught of electric architecture. Without a need for the conventional petrol or diesel motor, electric cars can be designed differently. This might even bring coach building back into the fray, a worrying news to manufacturers the world over.
It is astonishing that manufacturers put so much effort into something that does not even make it onto the road. But understandably so, they put in so much effort because, well, they feel the need to show the world what they are capable of. After all, in this competitive world, a person is deemed dead if he does not move his body for a while, even when he is asleep.
So, I get that manufacturers do this. But what gets my goat is that accountants allow it. The same accountants who make a fuss about adding a small crease so a car can look better because it will cost more. It is a strange world eh?