Car designs are getting more and more generic. That’s only partly the fault of the car companies. Safety and design rules place some restrictions on what can be done with car design these days.
You may have noticed car companies designing their cars with very flat fronts on them, for example. That’s courtesy of the pedestrian safety requirements, which have received heightened importance in crash testing over recent years. You want to go to market with a good crash test result? That doesn’t just mean protecting the vehicle’s occupants anymore. It means protecting those on the street, too.
And that influences what shape your car must be.
A vehicle’s silhouette used to be considered important in a time when you could identify what sort of car you were looking at when it was 100 meters away. People used to like that because their car was distinctive – it was a shape that they engaged with. You can’t mistake a classic Saab 900 from that distance, for example, or a Porsche 911.
Today, various rules and goals (e.g. aerodynamics) dictate what a car should be and vehicle design is becoming increasingly generic as a result. It’s like they’re all chasing the same magic formula, leading every company’s vehicles to adopt the same basic exterior shape. It’s the face they draw on the shape that’s different from company to company.
I saw this image online a few days ago. This car is a new release and will be shown at a motor show in the near future. The question is: can you identify which manufacturer makes this car?
Don’t go googling or checking the recent automotive headlines. Just have a look and see if you can pick who makes it.
I’ve deliberately blacked out the front grille, for the purposes of this post.
It shouldn’t be that hard to find, or guess.
The point of the post, however, is that in 2013 the vehicle in that photo could be made by any one of ten different companies and no-one would be surprised.
Motor vehicles have come a long, long way over the last four or five decades. The advances in technology have improved all areas of car making – from manufacturing to safety, amenity to capability, reliability to fuel economy.
I’m just not sure that aesthetic design has been one of those areas where it’s been all forward progress, that’s all.