Friday, March 9, 2012
Maybe you've seen them driving around. They're called "Engineering development vehicles" in the industry. The rest of the world knows them as prototypes. On this blog, you can enjoy tomorrow's appliances today.
Although the car business is a bunch of copycats wondering what the other will do next, I'm still fascinated by it. I like cars, even though they have hit their technological limits. Many are governed between 130 and 150 mph. Supercars top 200, but 300 is unlikely. Even modifiers see instinctively that cars aren't very exciting. Cars are often equipped with video game consoles so that their owners can play driving games. Gaming will become more popular if most cars end up driving themselves. I always wonder what the car companies will do next.
Engineering development vehicles in public, as opposed to at auto shows, are a guide to the future. If you see one at an auto show, it often means you'll never see it again. I remember people walking up to, then immediately turning away from the last incarnation of the Chevy Nomad. "It's only a prototype," many of them said.
Car companies, as much as they can be, are about the past. Even so, I'm fascinated. Lately, their retromania has gotten out of hand. Off the top of my head, I can think of the following cars I like that are ultimately useless steps backward:
Nissan Figaro (60's coupes)
Fiat 500 (Giugiaro's losing design became the Chevy Spark, Daewoo/Pontiac Matiz, which I might dig up later.)
4 door Mini (Trabant)
New Beetle (2 generations!)
Infiniti J-30 (Internally at Nissan, the "J" stood for "Jaguar." Designer Doug Wilson owned an XK 120 coupe. This and the first generation Altima are what woke up Jaguar designers.)
Camaro (You have to wonder. The new version imitates the original, which was a Mustang imitator.)
Porsche 911 (When will it go away?)
Audi TT (Karmann Ghia)
Panamera (In terms of style, it answers the question, "What if Tatra had survived?)
Jeep (Does the windshield still fold down? That could be useful for breaking it when driving over a rough surface, which can happen when off-roading. I also wonder about the running boards and big fenders. At least they could get rid of the optional thing in the front where you can hitch up your horse.)
Anyway, having made a short story long, this blog is for fun. I am not sentencing myself to a schedule or carrying a camera. Quality is secondary. Don't say you weren't warned.
For now, here are pictures of a Lexus and a Mercedes fuel cell vehicle.