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The Relevance Of Concept Cars

In almost every major auto show across the globe, automotive manufacturers unveil concept vehicles, and their existence is actually very useful.
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Credit BMW AG

In almost every major auto show across the globe, automotive manufacturers unveil concept vehicles, and their existence is actually very useful.

In most cases, the company wants to present a new design philosophy to the public and to the automotive press. It can also measure consumer reaction to these concepts. If the vehicle draws enough positive comments, the automaker will be convinced that they’re on the right track. On the other hand, if the public thinks the concept isn’t attractive, it might revise some details before deploying their new design philosophy to future production models.

Automakers can even boast innovative and super-powerful powertrains – or super-efficient ones, depending on the vehicle’s mission – under the hood of a concept. Sometimes, this engine in development really exists, although in other cases, it’s pure fiction. Clearly, we’re simply allowing the consumer to dream about what could come. These concepts are solely styling exercises, and don’t include a powertrain or a cockpit.

Obviously, when a manufacturer unveils a new production model inspired by a concept that’s well received by the public, we expect that new vehicle to look as closely as possible to the conceptual version. It’s not always the case. BMW, notably, succeeded in beautifully reproducing the i3 and i8 concepts. Inversely, Subaru couldn’t preserve the aggressive style of their magnificent WRX and Legacy concepts when came the time to create the production models.

There are also a few manufacturers that do things differently. In the case of Honda and Acura, the concepts they unveil generally represent production models lightly disguised with cosmetic add-ons, flamboyant paint jobs and oversized wheels. It was the case of the Honda Civic Concept introduced last year at the New York Auto Show.