The life of a car is akin to human: someone burns it to the fullest, but retires only at an advanced age, being surrounded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Others “deflate”, leaving no noticeable trace when the hair has not yet touched gray hair. Earth's population is gradually aging. And how much is measured by the average car? By what means do designers and designers achieve the success and longevity of certain models? Tracing the lifeline of some modern cars …
CRISIS … FOR THE GOOD?
Statistics show: despite short-term take-offs, a tendency to decrease in sales of passenger cars is evident. The reasons are the rapid rise in oil prices and the ever-deepening global economic downturn. This makes manufacturers look for new ways to attract customers. One of them is a more frequent change of models. If a few decades ago a car was often replicated without much change for 10-15 years, today even the most conservative brands cannot afford it. The recognized classics - Rolls-Royce and Bentley, Jaguar and Aston-Martin are forced to look back at young and nimble Japanese and Korean firms, although they appear in a completely different price range. And this is oh, how is it not easy, especially considering the enormous costs of updating expensive models in production.
The factor of novelty has long been put at the service of the Americans and Japanese. The creative conveyor does not stop with the factory launch: the serial car has just been presented at the car dealership, and engineers and designers are already puzzling over its modernization! In the twenty-first century, the mass model is measured on average five to six years, and after only two or three years, restyling or facelift is carried out. The first term (from English - restyle) means, of course, a change in style, the second (facelift) is borrowed … from medicine. This is the name for surgical correction of age-related changes in the soft tissues of the face.
Although with respect to the car these concepts are similar, restyling implies a more radical change in appearance in accordance with the fashion. If successful, the result is very noticeable. An example is the recent SAAB update 9–5. Put the previous and current cars side by side: heaven and earth, isn't it? Only an inquiring glance will mark the familiar line of the roof, otherwise they are completely dissimilar.
Fast restyling indirectly indicates a not-so-successful auto career. Remember the Volkswagen Beatle (Beetle) of the first generation? Times and requirements then, of course, were different, but few could boast of such longevity. And the noisy premiere of New Beatle brought modest dividends. True, the new Beetle spawned retro fashion. Chrysler RT-Cruiser, Chevrolet SSR, and other models that used motifs half a century ago, have won the sympathy of a certain layer of customers.
But one looks like a 21st century motorist. He wants everything at the same time: economical, attractive in appearance, roomy, powerful, easy-to-drive machine … It's impossible! - Skeptics dismissed. The optimists were in no hurry to answer and created … complete confusion in the once slender lineups. To the usual sedans, station wagons and hatchbacks added micro and compact vans, four-door coupes, four-wheel drive crossovers and other unprecedented “animals”. Ancestors did not even dream of such a choice of models, modifications, and configurations. Thanks … to the crisis?
RELATED TO ONE CHAIN
Of course, stylistic changes and the birth of new classes are not only dictated by fashion. No less important role is played by modern technology, opening up new opportunities for engineers and designers. Progress and crisis are related. Say, fuel cell cars not only do not require oil and are environmentally friendly, but also provide a wide field of design imagination. The General Motors concern’s Skateboard prototype is a 300-mm-high platform that houses fuel cells and a 73-kilowatt power plant - two electric motors each developing 500 N.m. In one fell swoop solved the problems of weight distribution and security! And the linkers can "play" with the interior as desired, squeezing the maximum of usable area out of it. True, this is still a prototype.
Powerful processors, high-speed data buses, wire management … In the recent past, these technologies were available only to space and aviation concerns. Now they have transformed car interiors. Buttons, levers, toggle switches becomes smaller. In their place - displays, multi-functional "twists", joysticks.