Whenever we hear “concept cars,” we may think of vehicles with a futuristic sense. Automakers often need to showcase their innovation and they are even willing to spend millions developing concept vehicles.
Concept cars give us a glimpse of design studies showcased by various auto manufacturers. You can think of concepts as sneak peeks of the most promising cars, trucks, and SUVs that might be produced in the next few years.
Importance of concept cars
The birth of any automobile begins with a designer’s sketch. Concept cars are no different. Although with a concept car, there are few limitations, the designers can truly express their creativity. They can also see how far they can push the envelope—to see which elements may work or not. Concept vehicles are built with impressive looks, parts, and features.
Did you know that some of the most popular cars nowadays started as mere concepts? You may have seen one on the road today that was initially a concept at some point. Even if a concept model is not officially released for mass-production, in some way or form, it will usually make it to another vehicle production.
If there are no concept vehicles, then there will be no production model. Concept cars are what auto buyers look forward to because it is like the first step to a vehicle’s reality. It is one of the most important aspects of the automotive industry.
Presenting a concept car gauges public reaction which helps automakers in their decision to launch certain vehicles.
Why automakers build concept cars
Concept cars can be perceived as “dream cars” which are created to set the stage for automotive innovation. It is a great way for auto companies to test their ideas as they present innovation in manufacturing, design, materials, and motors.
Here are the stages of building a concept car:
- Planning and determining the specifications: At first, the creators will devise, including the properties that need to be emphasized. They sketch and plot out their ideas. They also create specifications that will work great with the concept.
- Design: The creators of a certain concept car will agree on what the new vehicle should be like. They sketch and create outlines for the interior and exterior design. Models are made to put the design in its correct dimensions. They use CAD, 3D printers, and clay models to flesh out their ideas. A 3D model of the vehicle is built for more detail. After the model of the concept car is completed using some computer programs, they will then create a small-scale model using clay.
- Market research: This stage helps to lock down the plans and models. Market research for concept cars incorporates the brand confidence of auto companies. They may use people’s feedback to improve, change, or retain the parts of their design and modeling.
Automakers also use the car to get the audience’s attention. By presenting something that vehicle buyers will look forward to—it shows their strength, stability, as well as relevance in the auto industry.
- Testing: This stage ensures if the concept brief is met. Concept cars are shown to the public with “spy shots” and teasers.
Professional vehicle reviewers, automotive PR agencies, and other interested parties are invited to share their feedback. They show the drivability, handling, and other elements of the concept car.
- Final concept: With the feedback, testing, and prototyping, automakers will set the concept car for the final evaluation. The approved concept car will be sent towards manufacturing. The automaker will reveal the vehicle, then becomes a show car.
From concept to mass production
Since the 1950s, many concept cars were showcased in different prestigious auto shows. While some concepts give a clear statement of intent to show how technology will dominate the drive of the future, there is still a long list of concept cars that never pushed to production. Even if the concept cars have a huge potential to become the next best-selling vehicle, mass-producing it may never push through.
Seemingly, most of the concept cars shown to the public just became ‘celebratory models’ or a ‘vision board’ for future design intent. All too often, carmakers build their concept vehicles but never actually produce anything for consumers to buy. They can say that a particular concept is too extreme or overwhelming to put in production.
The concept cars provide the “DNA” for future cars to come. Many of the features in modern cars today showed up in older concept cars. The hybrid-electric drivetrain was just a part of a concept vehicle decades before it has made available to the market. To name a few concept cars that made it to production are Kia Soul, Volkswagen Concept One, Chevy Volt, Land Rover LRX, and the most anticipated Ford Bronco.
The Pontiac Aztek also came from a concept that is produced for the market but later became the brand’s legendary flop. Not considered as a minivan nor SUV—yet it is notorious for being an under-achieving crossover. But lo and behold, there is an interesting fact about this vehicle. The Aztek was used as Walter White’s car (a character from the renowned TV show, Breaking Bad).
Automakers making concept cars to life
Car manufacturers are coming up with different tech innovations to improve their upcoming and future vehicles. They are creating vehicles with smart technology, modern design, and advanced features.
The South Korean automaker Hyundai operates the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility. The company is proving that Asian brands can create something extraordinary. The Hyundai S-A1 was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The Hyundai S-A1 started as a mobility project that gives reference to flying cars.
The automotive manufacturer is partnering with the ride-hailing service Uber. Hyundai will mass-produce air taxis that will be flying as early as 2023. This is a part of the new Uber Elevate urban air travel service with the mission to build “flying taxis.”
Another popular automaker that is making a buzz in the auto industry is Ford. People were raving when they released an announcement that they are bringing back a well-known vehicle to the market. The company is driving its way to the next level with its all-new Ford Bronco.
As an homage to the classic rig that has been discontinued in 1996, Ford is resurrecting the Bronco. In 2004, it was unveiled that a concept car is built based on Ford Bronco. The concept vehicle was showcased at the North American International Auto Show. It is created with innovative features, designed with cool retro styling, and built with impressive off-road capabilities.
The Ford Bronco concept was heavily inspired by the first-generation model of the 1960s. The shape is derived from the classic rig and fully embraced its ’60s style—not only in the exterior design but also in its minimalist interior and instrumentation. It has a spacious and uncluttered interior, as well as a capable chassis that is ideal for both work and play.
Bronco’s 2004 concept
The 2004 Bronco concept and the upcoming one that is being mass-produced are not entirely the same. Ford has tweaked a few parts in its suspension, engine, as well as the design for its interior and exterior.
The automaker has no current plans for the new Bronco to put an eight-cylinder engine. They are not even grasping the idea of the V8 engine because of the emissions costs, as well as the CO2 implications if they go with the V8.
The 2004 concept of the Ford Bronco has the spirit of the first-gen model while sporting a more advanced powertrain technology. They want it to have outstanding power and torque with its 16-valve 2.0-liter common-rail Duratorq TDCi turbo diesel engine. The electronically controlled injectors are central to the vehicle’s common-rail system. The common-rail fuel injection technology they put in the concept has a peak torque of 244 lb-ft (330 Nm) at a relatively low 1,800 rpm.
The Bronco concept boasts that the fuel is delivered to the cylinders with high precision and control which results in fuel economy and greater performance. The public was awed when the features and specifications were unveiled. It is a promising vehicle for urban driving and off-roading.
Bronco’s new concept
The much-anticipated Ford Bronco does not go on sale until the spring of 2021. Extremely excited buyers will have to wait before it will arrive in dealerships. Although the reservations are full for the 2021 Bronco’s first edition, it will be worth it for those who patiently waited for the Bronco’s return.
A lot of people may feel a touch of envy and regret since the reservations are only limited to the new Bronco. For the lucky ones who were able to reserve it, they will get an ultimate fully loaded Bronco. According to Ford’s official website, dealers will be able to provide an approximate date for the delivery of the Bronco in early 2021. For the initial 2 and 4-door deliveries of Bronco, it is targeted to begin in June 2021 but may extend into the 2022 calendar year due to the high number of reservations.
Even though we’re patiently waiting for the release of Bronco, it seems that Ford is not done yet. The company first posted a teaser on its social media page. Looks like they are creating something exciting with a higher-performance Bronco. They posted about the 2021 Bronco Raptor or what they called “Warthog” (but the name still is not officially confirmed).
It was in September when they posted a photo of an awesome-looking Bronco flying with a set of BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tires. These all-terrain tires can be purchased from 4WheelOnline.Just recently, a video clip has been posted on Youtube by the BroncoG6 channel. The Ford Bronco shows a trail turn assist in action as it was driving through Silver Lakes Sand Dunes.
A lot of fans were amazed as the mysterious off-roader has been spotted roaming the streets of Michigan. According to Ford’s spokesman Jiyan Cadiz, they have plenty of excitement ahead so people should grip on their seats for more exciting news on Ford future vehicles.
The future is bright
When automakers roll out a new vehicle for production, they do not usually start mass-producing a concept car. It is used as a “prototype” and rarely gets beyond the auto show circuit. Auto companies opt to build a “production-intent vehicle” which is purposive for the marketplace.
As we all look forward to the future, no one can say exactly where the car industry is heading. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the tech innovation of automobiles, especially if we allow car designers to let their imaginations run free.