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Why Don’t Cars Look More Futuristic?

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Why don’t cars look like this?
Photo: James Vaughan via cc

Over the 20th century, artists and design visionaries have imagined how vehicles could look and function in the future. Admittedly, current technology is still far from the flying capabilities and fully autonomous operation that was envisioned in mid-20th century’s “world of tomorrow” fantasies, but today’s automobiles differ in more than just capabilities from those science fiction predictions.

Why don’t today’s cars look as stylish and fantastical as people envisioned them 70 years ago?


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Why Cars Are Looking More and More Conventional?

Now that we’re driving electric, semi-autonomous vehicles, shouldn’t these futuristic cars look a little more… futuristic? The closest we get to the “car of the future” are the concept vehicles paraded at auto shows, but what ends up on dealership lots as final production versions are much more conventional. Where’s all that creative vision?

David Hasselhoff's True Survivor Music Video Lamborghini Countach

The Hoff leans against a Lamborghini Countach
Photo: David Hasselhoff via YouTube

Generally, today’s vehicles look conservative because function and cost are prioritized over style. Parts that are radically stylized cost the manufacturer a lot of extra money to produce or hinder the streamlined aerodynamics and safety of the vehicle. These would result in very expensive models to sell—which is why high-end, limited production supercars look more unconventional than ordinary, mass-market consumer cars.

If your futuristic car is going to have an all-glass cabin, what will happen to the body pillars? If the wheels extend outside the wheel wheels, how will that impact parking and winter driving?

The other primary reason that today’s vehicles look humdrum is because of the overall influence that the market has on creativity from year to year. Ironically, the most “futuristic”-looking vehicles that have been created came out at the same time that pop culture was fascinated with envisioning futuristic designs (look at the 1950s Citroens or 1980s Lamborghinis). Today’s consumers are more interested in streamlined, functional vehicles, and thus designers are being influenced by those expectations.

The bottom line is that those “futuristic” car designs we saw in the mid-20th century were not by engineers; they were made by artists, who weren’t concerned with the feasibility of manufacturing their vision in the real world.


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Source: The Conversation