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Old 5th November 2014, 20:00   #1
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Red face Why are test cars camouflaged?

This thought has been going through my mind since a long time and i haven't been able to think of proper reasons why test cars are camouflaged while testing. In my opinion, i feel it'd be a lot better to test new (yet-to release) cars without the camouflage due to the following reasons -

1. People will get a sight of a new design. If they were thinking of buying some new car in some time and if they like the design they see, it's possible they might wait for some time and get this new car.

2. With loose camouflaging flaps and sheets hanging over in some test cars, isn't it a hazard at high speeds?

3. As far as i know, RTO hasn't stated that to-be-released cars have to be camouflaged.

4. In cases of facelifts where changes are very minimal, i think an uncamouflaged car will attract lesser eyeballs than a camouflaged car. (Example - tata safari storme)


The only advantage of camouflaging cars i can think of is-
Other companies may try to copy the design and release their product sooner than the company that came up with the design, but is that even possible?

Please pour in your thoughts and enlighten me if i've missed some point or if i've taken the whole thing in the wrong sense



Mods, please merge this thread to the appropriate section if this is not right. Sorry, if i've posted in the wrong section and thanks in advance!
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Old 5th November 2014, 20:09   #2
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

Its not just the wrap camouflage. Many auto-makers go the distance to even apply mismatching body panels, headlamps / tail lamps from different models or even different car makers. Some even stick on the emblems of competing car makers.

In your post you've already penned the reasons more or less Nothing different really.

1. Hides the changes coming up in the final model
2. If its a new car altogether, hides most of the details to keep the hipe
3. Creates interest in the people with auto mags etc. running paparazzi and coming up with interesting news.
4. Gives subtle hints that an update is coming up. For ex. when we spot a Safari Storme without any external change, but with a camo, we buyers get interested and start thinking about an update to the Storme somewhere.

Those really giving full effort, do manage it well. They use beefed up body panels made of foam etc. and cover the entire car with thick black cover with gaps only for visibility and lighting. That does a good job of hiding the overall car design.
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Old 5th November 2014, 21:16   #3
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

It is due to Osborne effect, a self-defeating prophecy. If buyers get to know that a new version is coming, then they will postpone their buying decision and sale of current product will fall.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik51094 View Post
3. As far as i know, RTO hasn't stated that to-be-released cars have to be camouflaged.
What happens if a camouflaged vehicle is involved in an accident or flagged by police or RTO?

Last edited by msdivy : 5th November 2014 at 21:20.
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Old 5th November 2014, 21:22   #4
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

To induce curiosity in people's minds. Brain games.

Example - if someone distributes to all a one page pamphlet which is an advertisement of a product, we might take a glance and put that away. But what if the same pamphlet is crumbled and given to you? there are high chances that you will open the crumbled paper, and make sure read through.

For a real genuine testing, securing a place with privacy is no big deal for auto makers. they have their own tracks. But out on the public roads, I guess is to make heads turn.
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Old 6th November 2014, 01:29   #5
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

Most probable reasons are already covered; doubt there could be something else.

Primarily, I guess it is to make sure the features are not discovered by other car manufacturers. This probably made more sense when there was a drastic level of innovation going on.

On a similar note, imagine how stupid someone who just bought a new car would feel if they saw the next version being test-driven in full glory :P

Quote:
Originally Posted by msdivy View Post
What happens if a camouflaged vehicle is involved in an accident or flagged by police or RTO?
Test cars have temporary registration, don't they? So, there shouldn't be any issue.
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Old 25th October 2015, 19:09   #6
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

Oops. Just checked the answers here! guess, i missed the notification somehow or forgot about it after seeing it in a hurry. Anyway, thanks a lot for the answer people.
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Old 25th October 2015, 23:37   #7
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reinhard View Post
Its not just the wrap camouflage. Many auto-makers go the distance to even apply mismatching body panels, headlamps / tail lamps from different models or even different car makers. Some even stick on the emblems of competing car makers.
Found this on the trivia thread posted by GTO, VW had tested the Vento with Ford logo
Name:  1230849d1397665173funinterestingtriviaindiancarscene121.jpg
Views: 1296
Size:  376.3 KB
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Old 26th October 2015, 00:15   #8
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik51094 View Post
The only advantage of camouflaging cars i can think of is-
Other companies may try to copy the design and release their product sooner than the company that came up with the design, but is that even possible?
In my humble opinion its not possible given the turn around window from design to production.

The greatest advantage to camouflage is the hype generated when any unusual design is spotted by keen auto enthusiasts resulting in blog posts and discussion on forums which results in market interest way before the actual product is released .

Last edited by mbilung : 26th October 2015 at 00:20. Reason: grammar edit
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Old 26th October 2015, 00:55   #9
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The reason test cars are camouflaged, well other than obviously hiding their design, is to give them an air of suspense. By camouflaging test cars the company is strategically advertising their new 'soon to be launched' products by ensuring that the various auto-mags fight it out to bring out the latest news first.

This is better than openly testing a car where its design is known immediately and it loses that 'suspense' factor. Plus when people spot a new test car they come up with tons of renderings and suggestions, which is taken as feedback by the company (though changes made are very rare).

This is followed by controlled leaks of the cars pictures, first blurry images or images at weird angles that don't make sense and this is followed by the classic, 'look ma! I managed to snap the interior' pictures. This is finally followed by the official reveal of the car with a few scoop pictures thrown in here and there to maintain the interest.

I have answered your queries to the best of my abilities.

Last edited by Shanksta : 26th October 2015 at 01:02.
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Old 26th October 2015, 10:52   #10
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karthik Chandra View Post
Found this on the trivia thread posted by GTO, VW had tested the Vento with Ford logo
Attachment 1431140
Ha! At first I thought it was a Mondeo gen 2 or something, then I read your words. nice job VW
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Old 26th October 2015, 12:22   #11
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushik51094 View Post
i haven't been able to think of proper reasons why test cars are camouflaged while testing. In my opinion, i feel it'd be a lot better to test new (yet-to release) cars without the camouflage due to the following reasons -
1. People will get a sight of a new design. If they were thinking of buying some new car in some time and if they like the design they see, it's possible they might wait for some time and get this new car.
2. With loose camouflaging flaps and sheets hanging over in some test cars, isn't it a hazard at high speeds?
3. As far as i know, RTO hasn't stated that to-be-released cars have to be camouflaged.
4. In cases of facelifts where changes are very minimal, i think an uncamouflaged car will attract lesser eyeballs than a camouflaged car. (Example - tata safari storme)

The only advantage of camouflaging cars i can think of is-
Other companies may try to copy the design and release their product sooner than the company that came up with the design, but is that even possible?
A camouflage make a lot of sense.
1) Instead of people waiting for a new design people may stop buying the current design or adjacent models of that particular manufacturer. For example if the Baleno design was visible and then Maruti could have lost sales of the Swift itself? or if the TUV300 design was known then the Quanto and Xylo sales itself could have stopped well before the TUV300 was launched. Nope the camouflage is necessary.
2) The camouflaging is not supposed to be loose. But yes the test drivers are generally specialists who are trained and not just the regular drivers. Yes the camouflage should generally be be tight enough and stuck to the vehicle (even if with dummy cladding to mislead on the looks), but as we have seen many don't do this right.
3) -It is not about the RTO at all. The cars run special number plates approved by the RTO and that is about it.
4) - But even if we at times feel the changes are minimal the company may a) Want the customers to wait for their minor face lift rather than go for competition vehicles in the meanwhile. b) The Customers who are say considering a facelift vehicle may not do so because of incomplete information as the exterior changes may be minimal and the major changes may be on the inside or all the exterior changes may not be present on the specific test vehicle, this can lead to misinformation that the changes are not significant and the company (read marketing) may wish the entire set of changes to be made know all together.

5) Competition seeing the designs is also a major issue.

6) That said there sure have been cases where a company has released the look of their model early even if sales was not possible or the vehicle was not ready for production as in autoshows or otherwise just to make customers wait for their models rather than buy competition products in the meanwhile.
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Old 26th October 2015, 19:09   #12
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Default Re: Why are test cars camouflaged?

Basically every car has to be tested in real-world driving conditions to check the longevity of clutch & brake pads/discs, mileage, oil levels & various mechanical parameters like how the suspension holds up, rubber part effectiveness, spark plugs, on & on. In short the car is put through a 10 year running pattern in a year.

Now the main problem of doing this undisguised would be that people would know exactly what changes have been done to the newer model of a car, thus they would scrap their current purchase plans of the existing(old) model and wait for the new one. This was the main, perhaps only reason car manufacturers completely covered their new cars in nylon cloth before testing them, but wait, over time car designers/artists were easily able to recreate the silhouette of the car since the cloth didn't hide the outline. Thus the current system of cleverly putting padding/cardboard boxes just above the creases & kinks of the car so that the design can never be figured out.

In a way the manufacturers are only trying to keep the suspense till the release date as is their right to do so, however the curiosity & endless discussions by fans of respective brands lead to a kind of mothballing publicity. This has lead to a new kind of professions dedicated to snapping only disguised new car models, which would then be purchased by the various automotive magazines/websites to keep their subscriptions/clicks alive. If you ask me, manufacturers should be left alone to do their thing and once the product is finally on the shelf then opinions can be formed, whether good or bad.
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