• Sign in
  • |
  • Sign up

Car News

Concept Cars: Why Do Automakers Build Them?

RELATED READING
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Infiniti cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon

author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2013

If you've ever been to an auto show or seen coverage of one, chances are you've noticed concept cars. They usually steal the show: futuristic vehicles that look exciting thanks to swoopy lines, high-tech interiors and enormous shiny wheels -- none of which could ever make it on a real street car. Since automakers can't actually build these cars, what's the point of making them? We explain.

It's All About Image

The main reason automakers build concept cars is simple: image. Many automakers launch new vehicles at auto shows. Most times, only the automotive press reports on those vehicles. Mainstream media, such as newspapers and magazines, tend to wait until they've driven a car to talk about it.

But if your concept car is unusual enough, it's likely to make headlines far and wide. Editors know that big wheels and futuristic styling are eye-catching, so they'll usually run a few photos of flashy concept cars. Manufacturers hope that readers, in turn, will see the photos and change their perception of a brand. If you're trying to go sporty, for instance, you would release a sporty concept car. As images are published, shoppers remember your brand as sporty.

Showcasing Technology

But image isn't the only reason for concept cars. Another reason brands might show off a concept model is if they have new technology to reveal and putting it in a regular car just won't get enough attention. For instance, many automakers today are developing concept cars with hybrid drivetrains. That's sure to be more eye-grabbing than just putting a hybrid engine in a typical production car.

Testing the Waters

One final reason an automaker might build a concept car is to find out whether shoppers want to buy it. An example is the Dodge Viper, which was originally shown in concept form in the late 1980s. Chrysler didn't plan to build the Viper but kept the possibility open if demand was strong enough.

That's exactly what happened: Exceptional demand at the Viper Concept's launch led Dodge to put it into production. While this doesn't happen often, it's certainly on the list of reasons why an automaker might build a concept car.

So there you have it, a few reasons why a brand might build a concept car. The next time you see a shiny new concept model that has no chance of making production, you'll know the automaker has more in mind than simply letting its designers have some fun.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Close 
Concept Cars: Why Do Automakers Build Them? - Autotrader