The long and wild history of concept cars

Concept cars are designed to be showpieces of fancy that allow automakers to showcase their creativity. Often, a concept car is just a blip on a timeline and a burst of triumphant excitement, later shelved in a museum for us all to marvel at a company’s foresight or folly.

A concept, by definition, is an idea; in this case, a concept car is an idea that takes the temperature of the public to see how buyers might react to a set of features and designs. Automakers don’t need to release a concept every year, and they need to balance the cost of building a vehicle that may or may not see the light of the production line. While it is true that some concepts have become obsolete, others become successful models that carry many of the same characteristics as the concept. Even those that are very futuristic and wacky lay the foundation for innovations to come.

Recently, truck maker Ram announced the 1500 Rev, the production version of its Revolution EV concept. The Revolution (not the Rev) was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, with some exciting features, like coach doors (which open in the middle like French doors in a house), and a glass roof that adjusts its tint electronically. But when the production version was launched at the Chicago Auto Show in February, some expressed disappointment with how its gas-powered sibling looked. Where were the cool removable third row seats from the concept? Where was the storage tunnel to keep long things?

To be fair, automakers—especially when they’re large public companies—are beholden not only to manufacturing and safety regulations but to their shareholders. In the case of the Ram 1500 Rev, the company will build the production vehicle on the new all-electric architecture from its parent company Stellantis instead of the one used by the gas version of the 1500 truck.

Other concepts in life

There is a long history of wild concept cars, many of which never became actual production models.

Consider the other Berlinetta Aerodynamica Tecnica series commissioned by luxury automaker Alfa Romeo in the mid-1950s. These three cars featured unusual, gorgeous bodies that evoke sea creatures in motion. And somehow, they all ended up in great shape and sold as a set for more than $14 million at auction in 2020. These concepts, unlike the new offerings, never became production vehicles, more art than realism. -modern made recently.

In 2021, Genesis unveiled its X Concept EV, a sleek coupe with parallel LED lights that define its curves. Last year, he followed up with the convertible X Concept that peeled back the top and revealed more futuristic details. Our great pleasure, Automotive News reported that the X Convertible recently received the green light for official production.

Also under Hyundai Motor Group, Kia introduced a streamlined concept in 2011 that eventually gave way to the Stinger, widely hailed by the industry as a game changer for the Korean manufacturer. Engineered by a former BMW Vice President of engineering and sketched out by a famous ex-Audi designer, the Stinger was finally launched to the world in 2017. It was taller than the concept and had more buttoned-down design elements on the outside. , but about the. hood the performance was great, especially the 365-horsepower GT model. A moment of silence for the now retired Stinger, please. Hope springs eternal, as rumors of an all-electric Stinger fade away.

Gas-wise, the raw and fat Dodge Viper started as a concept that was first shown at the Detroit auto show in 1989. Using an existing truck engine as its basis, the concept evolved over three years into the Viper RT/10 1992 and delighted fast car enthusiasts for over twenty and a half years until it was discontinued in 2017.

the electric pickup truck ram rev
The Fr. Ram

From Revolution to Rev

In the same automotive manufacturing family as the Viper, the Ram 1500 Rev moved quickly from concept to production. And while the Rev may not be exactly the same as the Revolution, it does have the benefit of sharing some parts with the gas-powered Ram 1500 lineup. This will speed up production and keep the cost on the manageable side. Ford did the same with its F-150 Lightning, which was purposely built to be familiar to F-150 customers to avoid alienating its loyal base.

The 1500 Rev won’t be equipped with the concept’s removable jump seats, which could turn the Ram pickup into the first third-row truck. Ryan Nagode, Ram/SRT’s chief interior designer, was inspired to add the track seats when he noticed that parents were pulling around stadium seats to make the hours spent sitting on the bleachers at their children’s sporting events more comfortable. He wondered if something like that could be incorporated into the truck and the idea successfully integrated into the cabin of the Revolution concept.

“There have been vehicles in the past with jump seats, and I think there’s a lot of reality built into these ideas,” Nagode said. PopSci at the Chicago Auto Show’s Concept Garage in February. “Obviously some of these things take a lot of push and pull on the engineering team, but I think it’s not too long.”

Alas, those seats will not be included in the Rev, but the seeds of creativity may appear sometime in the future.

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