15 April 2019 · Motoring Tips & Advice

Coming Up with the Concepts for New Cars | Phil Gilbert Hyundai

Coming Up with the Concepts for New Cars

Designing and producing new cars is a complex, time consuming and expensive endeavour. The new vehicles released onto the market are just a small fraction of what’s involved in the overall concept and design process. Most concepts never see the light of day, although they may get showcases to much fanfare at motor shows. For example, the Nucleon, a car introduced in 1958 at auto shows, was powered by an atomic reactor and got 8,047 kilometres per charge of uranium. Today, we see concepts that incorporate augmented reality into our vehicles. Concept cars aren’t just an opportunity for car manufacturers to flex their engineering muscles. They are also an important part of developing new cars.

How Concept Cars Fuel Innovation

Concept car play a key role when it comes to innovation in motors, manufacturing materials and design. Car manufacturers continue to use concept cars to test ideas today. In the conceptual design stage, design teams work on a particular idea that either tests a theory or solves an existing problem.

The process looks something like this:

Planning and specifications - The car manufacturer chooses an idea or a problem to solve and a team of designers will work for months or years to plan, create specifications and test the hypothesis or idea.

Concept design - Using CAD, 3D printers and clay models, the design team flesh out some of their concepts to become working representations of their ideas.

Market research - The manufacturer will conduct research to get relevant information about their concepts and receive feedback about the concept which can then be incorporated into the design and modelling.

The test car - The manufacturer will then create one or more concept cars for viewing and testing which allows for testing of driveability, handling and other key elements of the car’s design. Professionals and potential customers are invited to share feedback at this stage.

All the feedback, testing and prototyping eventually becomes a new concept vehicle which is manufactured and becomes the show car of flagship for innovation.

What Keeps Concept Cars from Going to Market?

Concept cars are testing grounds for new ideas. Most don’t go to market because they aren’t economical or practical enough for the general market as of yet. Consider that the first hybrid vehicle showed up in 1975 and only entered the market in the late 1990’s and is only recently becoming an affordable option.

Concept cars often feature flashy, interesting designs which are a stark contrast from what we see on our roads. It’s commonly pointed out that many cars today look very similar. But there are good reasons for that. The biggest priority is rightly placed on safety and fuel-saving aerodynamics.

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