The word concept means a principle or an idea. From a marketing point of view, it means an idea for a new product or a way to sell a new product, in this case, a car. It is used to describe a method for automobile makers to create a physical idea of a car that is not designed to go into production or to be made into a fully functioning car as-is.
A concept car is still a real thing that can be sat in and sometimes even drivable albeit in a test environment. A concept car costs money and hundreds of employees can be involved in the ideation of the concept car as well as its construction, so what's the point in a concept car?
What do car companies do with concept cars?
Concept cars have a couple of uses to a car company and the desired result is usually plotted well in advance.
In the first instance, a concept car can be designed and built purely to showcase a manufacturer's proposed new styling and technology. We use the word 'propose' as the concept car is created to gauge feedback on the new styling to determine if it's worth adapting to their future designs of production cars. A concept car's styling is usually pretty 'out there' and way ahead of its time - this is done to grab people's attention much quicker and to get much more detailed feedback. It's not uncommon to see a concept car's style 5 years in the future.
Here are some examples of some concept cars from the archives of time, some were used as inspirations for production vehicles while others were confined to history. Let us know your favourite in the comments below!
1. 2008 Land Rover LRX - Range Rover Evoque
Does this look familiar? It should as the above Land Rover LRX from 2008 concept lent its style quite heavily to the popular Range Rover Evoque which was released in 2013, 5 years later.
2. 2013 Volkswagen Golf GTI Concept
3. 2007 - Peugeot Honey-B
Some concept cars such as Peugeot's 'Honey-B' are unlikely to ever lead anywhere and were handed in as part of a design challenge. Clearly, this design is more of a 'what if' scenario to showcase the designer's imagination.
4. 2010 Audi Quattro
The stunning 2010 Audi Quattro concept ended up lending a lot of its style to the Audis you can see on the road today. This shows how much an impact a concept car's feedback can be. Many people like certain elements of the 2010 Quattro so they kept them!
5. 2012 - Peugeot Onyx
The stunning Peugeot Onyx has its own section on Peugeot's website complete with engine specs and performance data. However, what we noticed is how some of Peugeot's current generation of cars took some design cues such as the new 5008.
6. 1972 - BMW Turbo
The BMW Turbo concept from 1972 was and still is a striking car that doesn't look an awful lot like a BMW car past or present. It shared its platform with the ultra-popular BMW 2002 but other than that this concept car remained a concept forever.
7. 1979 - Volvo Tundra
Volvo has a reputation for making safe, reliable cars with a certain look. They tried to change things with the Tundra concept in 1979 but it just wasn't them and it was shelved. Still, this is a glimpse of what could have been for the Swedish carmaker.