Design is a process of creating something with design principles and a way of creative thinking. This process takes place in various application areas of design, such as industrial design, environmental design, graphic design, architectural design Etc. Especially, Industrial design is the most common application area of design nowadays. Industrial design refers to creating concepts and definitions that develop the function, value, and appearance of objects for facilitating human life. Therefore, Industrial design includes many different fields, such as transportation, medical, industry, glass Etc. Car design is one of them.

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Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet1
Car Design_©gorodenkoff

Car design is to design new and current products for mass production by considering various criteria such as aesthetics, creativity, technical advantage, functionality, ergonomics, material knowledge, marketability, production methods, and possibilities for consumer needs and problems. Many people with a background in the arts and experts in graphic design, industrial design, or transportation design are part of car design teams. Car design teams are responsible for the exterior, interior, color, and material of the car, so it is possible to say that car design teams focus on the form and function. In this process, car design teams focus on society’s needs, shaped by the economic and social living conditions. Therefore, it is possible to say that car design has positive or negative effects on society’s social living conditions. For instance, using non-renewable energy sources or causing pollution are common environmental problems of car design. On the other hand, it has many social life issues, such as increasing individuality, obesity etc. Therefore today, car design teams think of many current problems, such as globalization, competition, climate change, and financial crisis when designing a car. Thus, car design teams try to develop effective solutions to society’s social problems. In this article, I will examine to economic and social dynamics of car design and its effect on car design with historical process.

Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet2
Car Design Team_©gorodenkoff

Past: Car Design 

The car started in the 19th century with the use of steam as energy. Car design teams of the 20th century dealt with many issues from size to engine. In the 20th century, cars became the main transportation for people, and after World War II, cars had a significant impact on society’s social living conditions. In these years, Henry Ford’s production of the Ford Model T and its 3rd place in the world’s best-selling cars list were pioneers following the development and sustainability of car designs. The first cars were designed as family-sufficient, convenient for individual use, easy to maintain, and low price. Due to the lack of intellectual and technological infrastructure of the 20th century, safety elements such as airbags, seat belts, and lightness did not take place in car designs. On the other hand, cars considered a luxury consumption object in the 20th century faced many issues, such as bad weather conditions. Even cars could not protect the driver and passengers against bad weather conditions and dust. These problems from the 20th century increased the tendency of car designs. The 20th century’s feature of competition caused manufacturers to intercross existing models with each other. Thus many car design typologies occurred in the following period.

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Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet3
Ferrari 166 MM Panoramica_©wheelsage

Following the 20th century, car design teams started to design more aerodynamic cars to reduce fuel consumption because of the increasing oil crisis. Oil also caused car design teams’ to produce more environmentally friendly cars. Therefore, it is possible to say that environmental and technological awareness started in the 20th century. Besides all, car designs changed society’s economic and social living conditions. The most significant result of the change was the creation of a competitive environment. This situation affected both society’s daily life and manufacturers in terms of consumption-oriented lifestyle. Finally, it’s worth remembering that cars also emerged as a combination of inventions designed nearly a hundred years. Roger Bacon’s mention of cars that could move at high speed was proof of this situation.

Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet4
Lancia Aurelia Cabriolet (B50)_©wheelsage

Present: Car Design 

Changing needs and environmental conditions create environments that enable car designers to find new ways today. Today, cars equipped with renewable energy sources are proof of this. Today’s cars are designed to be more reliable, longer-lasting, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly than old vehicles by car design teams. Therewithal problems that seriously affect human life, such as global warming and decreasing fossil fuels, encourage car design teams to produce a new type. This situation causes various 21st-century car designs. For instance, cars equipped with electric energy are in use today because diesel cars adversely affect the atmosphere balance due to high carbon emissions. Increasing sales and production of electric cars cause the development and dissemination of their electric cars and create plans for the future. Today, electric cars are one of the most significant focuses of the global car industry. Especially Tesla‘s entering into the global car industry increases the competition. Finally, the issue of finding solutions to the problems of car design with artificial intelligence is significant in the global car industry as in various sectors. Today, cars that move under the control of artificial intelligence are designed as prototypes and these cars are waiting for the appropriate time for mass production. Prevention of possible accident situations and development of vehicles with less manpower are among the design criteria of artificial intelligence.

Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet5
Today Car Technologies_©mbbirdy
Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet6
Today Car Technologies_©PhonlamaiPhoto
Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet7
Today Car Technologies_©DarthArt

Future: Car Design 

Soon hybrid, electric hybrid, and electric cars may be used by people. Therewithal, using all-electric and fuel cell of car design is possible future, too. Besides all, cars may provide people with many advanced features, such as artificial intelligence control, adjusting the driving level, self-driving cars, predictive maintenance, driver recognition etc. Therefore the use of self-driving cars started under the leadership of Tesla may pioneer to use of fully autonomous cars in the future. This situation may cause the transformation of the car may start with this depending on the change in usage patterns. On the other hand, car designs teams may present designs that remind us of returning to nature with the increasing technology. Therewithal, it may possible to customize all these car designs according to different age groups, genders, and characters. Moreover, car design teams may use high technological tools in terms of performance and efficiency in future car designs. These designs may make a significant visual impact on people with their interior design. Today, there are many examples of future car designs such as Metromorph, designed for Peugeot by Roman Mistiuk to provide insight into future vehicle designs; eRinGo EV, designed by Mohammed Ghezel; P-Eco, designed by Jung-Hoon Kim; BIOME, developed at Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios in California; the AIRPod, designed to be environmentally friendly, and more. Finally, future car designs may affect society’s economic and social living conditions with changing world and technology. Just like globalization, those who can not adapt to the competition may expose to social exclusion. On the other hand, the winning side may exhibit individualistic approaches that lack their identity in the magical world of future technology.

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Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet8
eRinGo EV _©ArtStation
Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet9
BIOME_©WallpaperAbyss
Past, Present and Future: Car Design - Sheet10
AIRPod_©El monty

Reference List

  1. Articles

Dowlen, C., 2013. Automobile design history: what can we learn from the behavior at the edges?. International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation, 1(3), pp.177-192.

Dowlen, C., 2017, Design Paradigms in Car History.

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  1. Books
  2. Bellu (1998), La conscience écologique, s. 298
  3. Online sources

ThoughtCo. 2021. The First Cars Were Powered by Steam. [online] Available at: <https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-steam-powered-cars-4066248> [Accessed 14 October 2021].

Kessels, C., 2021. Car Design History. [online] Cardesignhistory.com. Available at: <https://www.cardesignhistory.com/> [Accessed 13 October 2021].

  1. [online] Available at: <https://www.oica.net/category/production-statistics/2007-statistics/> [Accessed 14 October 2021].
  2. Images/visual mediums

[Image 1] Car Design. Available at: https://www.istockphoto.com/tr/foto%C4%9Fraf/otomotiv-m%C3%BChendisi-3d-ara%C3%A7-modeli-tasar%C4%B1m-analizi-ve-iyile%C5%9Ftirilmesi-i%C3%A7in-gm1190108808-337233151 [Accessed 16 October 2021].

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[Image 2] Car Design Team. Available at: https://www.istockphoto.com/tr/foto%C4%9Fraf/%C3%A7e%C5%9Fitli-otomobil-tasar%C4%B1m-m%C3%BChendisleri-ekibi-f%C3%BCt%C3%BCristik-otonom-elektrikli-otomobil-gm1270630027-373510978 [Accessed 16 October 2021].

[Image 3] Ferrari 166 MM Panoramica. Available at: https://s36.wheelsage.org/format/picture/picture-gallery-full/f/ferrari/166/ferrari_166_mm_zagato_panoramica_2.jpg [Accessed 16 October 2021].

[Image 4] Lancia Aurelia Cabriolet (B50). Available at: https://s36.wheelsage.org/picture/l/lancia/pininfarina/aurelia_cabriolet/lancia_aurelia_cabriolet.jpeg [Accessed 16 October 2021].

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[Image 5] Today Car Technologies. Available at: https://www.istockphoto.com/tr/foto%C4%9Fraf/cockpit-of-tesla-model-s-car-gm477634295-36270888 [Accessed 16 October 2021].

[Image 6] Today Car Technologies. Available at: https://www.istockphoto.com/tr/foto%C4%9Fraf/arabada-%C3%A7arp%C4%B1%C5%9Fma-tesh-kukla-gm1209793467-350212844 [Accessed 16 October 2021].

[Image 7] Today Car Technologies. Available at: https://www.istockphoto.com/tr/foto%C4%9Fraf/smart-fortwo-gm470740010-62989441 [Accessed 16 October 2021].

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[Image 8] eRinGo EV. Available at: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/51dw [Accessed 16 October 2021].

[Image 9] BIOME. Available at: https://images3.alphacoders.com/176/176737.jpg [Accessed 16 October 2021].

[Image 10] AIRPod. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MDI_Air_Pod_(1).JPG#/media/File:MDI_Air_Pod_(1).JPG [Accessed 16 October 2021].

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