The concept car always seems to catch the imagination of audiences. With its beautifully crafted futuristic style and after staring at it over a couple of minutes the question always pops up: Why do manufacturers spend millions developing them if they’re never going to make it into production?
Peugeot, for example, has spent a year working on the e-Legend, a retro-styled coupe which harks back to a classic design of the 1960s and 1970s or the Maybach 6 Cabriolet which seems like it’s been made to define the word perfection. But the reality of these two going into production will most likely be zero.
The reason why these types of models are designed is to show what the company thinks a hugely powerful – all-electric self-driving machine might be like. It bears little relation to anything the brand currently produces, but that is hardly the point.
Some of Peugeot’s e- Legend radical styling is expected to make it on to a new road-going car that will be unveiled later this year. Other ideas will feed into future designs and provide a roadmap for technical research.
For generations, car companies have been focused on making petrol or diesel models that appeal to individual drivers. But the current move towards electrification, the headlong development of self-driving technology and the likely expansion of shared use vehicles, could potentially threaten traditional manufacturers who target the driver rather than the passenger.
If we are heading for a Blade Runner imagined future where city dwellers – at least one day – rely on electric-powered AI robot taxis to get around, car brands will have to adapt to the cultural change driven by technology, governance or public social pressures for improving the environment.
No-one can say for sure where exactly the car industry is heading. But by allowing designers to let their imaginations run free, carmakers can at least start to prepare themselves for an uncertain future – and gain some good publicity into the bargain.