Is this really still the case, that form follows function, that the overall styling decides whether it will be a marketing success or not? The fact that the 'Zeitgeist' (spirit of the times) plays an essential role, also in car-design is understandable. The tension here can often be percepted, on the one hand the design of the car body, on the other hand the orientation of continuing with the history of the manufacturer.
Already, if one compares one of today's auto magazines with one from former times, the differing emphasis is obvious. The older ones placed a lot more importance on technology, whereas today, the exterior form is in the spotlight. This is even partly the case with trade experts, the judgement is however, somewhat restrained, if a certain amount of commitment to a particular manufacturer is apparent.
No, the technology appears to be less interesting. It has obviously become less important, although e.g., Audi's attempt with the A2 to completely seal the engine compartment and just leave a inspection-flap open, was a complete flop. The people have found themselves in surroundings which are becoming more and more complicated. To be able to receive knowledge, as it were, at the touch of a button, as Bill Gates once said, leaves the door open for possible confusion.
I can't help comparing this with the child, who when having to decide which of the presents to take from a large choice, starts to cry. It is simply easier, just to look at the car or better still, to feel it, sit in it and, in this comfortable atmosphere, come to a decision. After all, we are also accustomed to judging people in a fraction of a second.
Making a judgement gives people self confidence, particularly then, when they don't know much about the subject. Most of the time, one has the feeling that the average modern person spends a great amount of his/her productive time, avoiding disappearing among the masses. One way to do this, is to identify oneself through the car, which encloses one like a cocoon or a home on wheels.
The vehement striving of the former developing countries, e.g., China, for individual mobility, shows that automobiles as a possibility for spontaneous driving around and representation are indispensable. Those who can afford it financially, grasp at the chance, sometimes, again using China as an example, with the help of the whole family. It's almost as if something vital would be missing, if one couldn't make this dream come true.
Should there be a bit more financial leeway, the design plays an even more decisive role. Indeed, because there are, in the meantime, so many mass suppliers offering products with similar technology, appearance has become almost the most important factor. Consider the difficulties that these manufacturers have, inside of an existing product-range and in ever shorter times, to bring out something new.
The people started out as hunters and gatherers, indeed, they've come a long way since then, not genetically but in the way they think. The car as an enlargement of their egos, as the manifestation of a certain lifestyle, which they someday, want to have. Quite often they overstep their limits, their optimism was simply too great. What remains is a pitiful disproportion between reality and the successful activities of the car sales-people. 05/14