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RE: 10 concept cars lost in translation

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Concepts vs. Real Cars

Too bad the production cars didn't carry over some of the concept designs. Except we didn't need any of the Pontiac Aztek designs to carry over at all because it started out being butt-ugly. I guess we need to keep in mind that production cars are made to be idiot proof. By that I mean production cars are designed for total safety and avoid any real driving experience by the driver. For instance to me, the ideal stance of a car is to have it lowered enough to get rid of the 3-4" gap between tire and wheel well, but for Joe Public this would create massive problems. If you look at the concept cars, most have been lowered to make it look good. People would be suing the car companies if they made production cars similar to the concept cars. For most cars, we live in an idiot proof boring world, but this is perfect for most consumers. Besides the mechanics of a car, the designs are geard for boring people. That Nissan concept version was very nice looking, but Nissan needed to cater to millions of buyers instead of a few thousand. Ugly cars are why I don't buy a new car very often. Our current decade of car designs have been created by someone wearing a blindfold.

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We live in a world of litigation

And economic realities. Concept vehicles allow car stylists to stretch their creativity. Sometimes you find a conceptual winner that the show circuit public raves over and that a car maker is then willing to stick their financial necks for, but most times it's just baby steps ('take this idea here...take that piece there') that the companies are willing to make to their "Next Great Design".

Considering that with each, relatively 'safe-n-sane' new model rollout usually requires an initial outlay in the hundreds of millions, broad brush makeovers rarely happen. Back in the 1980s the poster child for that sort of risk-taking was Ford and its then all-new Taurus. Development for that car went well over $1B (or over $2.2B in today's dollars); Ford quite literally gambled the future of their company on that car, a radical departure from what and how they did things prior to its advent.

Blank slate design changes--even ones where a lot of the behind-the-scenes automotive tech is inherited from prior generations or existing sibling vehicles--is an expensive proposition. Their infrastructure is not light on its feet; it's nowhere close to the sort of flexibility that small goods makers have at hand. The bigger the product, the tougher it is to make wholesale revamps. Car makers tend to err on the side of caution as a result. Even though their designers are called stylists, it ain't like the fashion industry, where you can just call up some slave...er...sweat shop south of Shanghai and get your next season's trendy look made and on the first boat to the West. THAT'S the reality that car makers are faced with.

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