Why do concept vehicles exist?

Have you ever made it to a major automobile trade show? If you’ve been to the ones in Detroit, New York, or Las Vegas, the odds are pretty good that you’ve laid eyes on more concept vehicles than you can count. The odds are even better that you’ve probably been upset that these concept vehicles never seem to make it to mass-market manufacturing.

Concept vehicles are one of the backbone elements to any major automobile trade show. Just about every single major automobile manufacturer out there is responsible for producing a handful of concept cars every year. The only problem is that most of these concept cars never end up making it to a final production run. They act as little more than teasers to get people excited about a particular automobile before ripping the rug right out from underneath them.

If you’ve ever wondered why concept cars even exist in the first place, and why they never end up making it to that final production run or the garages of millions all over the world, you’re going to want to check out all of the inside information we have for you below.

Saab concept car

Here’s a Saab concept vehicle that will never go into production.

Concept vehicles are designed to steal the show

The most important thing for you to realize about concept cars is that they are produced for a variety of different reasons. The biggest reason that they exist in the first place is so that they can draw a ridiculous amount of attention to a particular vehicle or automaker and give them the opportunity to “steal the show”.

Because automobiles are basically the exact same thing when you get right down to it (a mode of transportation that gets you from one place to another using mostly the exact same technology and the exact same fuel source), automakers understand that they need to mix things up a bit. They need to create a very specific brand image that excites and connects with people to have any chance of success.

Concept cars give them the opportunity to produce incredibly innovative solutions, wildly creative options, and intriguing designs. These are designs that an automaker understands would never capture the attention of a mass-market (millions and millions of car buyers). It is enough to capture the attention of the dedicated and passionate few that go to and cover these automobile shows though.

That’s enough to get the company fantastic press. It gets the automaker in front of millions via Internet articles about that particular concept vehicle. It will also drum up interest in specific features of the concept car that usually make it into a mass-market product.

concept cars

Most concept vehicles will never make it out of the showroom.

Concept cars are sometimes used as a “dry run” to gauge interest

Not all concept vehicles are show ponies, however.

Some of them are actually put on display to gauge the interest of the auto market as to whether or not they would like to see that vehicle produced. This is usually with a handful of modifications and alterations made later. It’s almost a kind of prototype that helps automakers determine whether or not they’re headed in the right direction.

The perfect example of a concept vehicle being used as a prototype and a dry run is when Chrysler first unveiled its concept for the Dodge Viper all the way back in the late 1980s. That was more than 10 years before it ever saw the light of day.

dodge concept vehicles

A 2008 Dodge Viper concept vehicle.

People went absolutely crazy for the concept design. It received so much positive feedback that the engineers and designers behind the Viper were able to argue (successfully) with the heads of Chrysler at that time to give them the opportunity to produce an amazing supercar that could go toe to toe with anything else out there – including the Chevy Corvette.

This project was obviously green lit (though it didn’t happen for quite a while), and continues to stoke the fires of interest in concept vehicles that just might make it to a production line some day. There are people out there crossing their fingers that the Land Rover Defender concept makes it to a production line just like the Dodge Viper did oh so many years ago. This just begins to scratch the surface of people begging for concept vehicles to actually get made!

You have to learn not to fall in love with concept vehicles. Even in the rare event that a concept does actually get made, it’s usually a lot different. Many of the concept vehicles are just for attention so if they go into full production there are many changes that are required. Safety items like airbags, crumple zones, and seatbelts are rarely included in concept vehicles. Most of these items are required by law to drive on the street. Just these few examples alone are enough to make a concept that looks really cool turn into something else entirely once it needs to be street legal.

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