Universal Design Why do new cars all look the same?
【Summary】If you’re analyzing the automobiles driving around you on various streets, parkways and highways, you’ll be hard pressed to dismiss the reality that most of the new car models look pretty similar in terms of their collective design. Citizens in various nations around the world are noticing new trends more and more. It’s as if there’s an agenda of amalgamation. This marks the end of one automotive era, and the beginning of a new one.
By Anthony C. LoBaido
SILICON VALLEY, California — The iconic automotive designs which have become synonymous with American culture over the past century now seem like a faded relic of the past. While the nation of Cuba sports automobiles from the 1950's, old-style vehicles in the U.S. have been relegated to auto shows and pristine garages for the most part. One might point to the Mustang, Cadillac, Corvette and Chevy Nova as various examples.
The 1969 - 1970 Nova was an incredible model featuring a seemingly indestructible fuel efficient engine. The engine block itself was very easy to work on —and devoid of any computer diagnostics in terms of engaging in repairs. The Chevy Nova was the height of simplicity. Ironically, Nova means, "No go" in Spanish. "Va" is the term for "you go." Imagine a reliable, rugged car called the "No Go!"
Yet these days if you're analyzing the automobiles driving around you on various streets, parkways and highways, you'll be hard pressed to dismiss the reality that most of the new car models look pretty similar in terms of their collective design. A Mercedes doesn't feature the special look it used to, nor does a Lexis. Volvo, Volkswagen and other models have undergone a reformation. Citizens in various nations around the world are noticing new trends more and more. It's as if there's an agenda of amalgamation. This marks the end of one automotive era, and the beginning of a new one.
Why has this happened? The reasons are seven-fold.
The first involves the engineering of front-ends that are flat and wide so the energy and force of a car that hits a pedestrian is diffused. The second reason is "drag reduction," so the cars will get better gasoline mileage. Aerodynamic designs require a flat front end and the raising of the trunk line. High doors and short windows are the result in the aforementioned changes in shape for the front and rear ends. Thicker center pillars were designed into the new car models because of rollover survival standards set up by the federal government.
Continuing along, side airbags also sit in the center pillars and this in and of itself has led to a consolidation of engineering designs. The Honda "Insight" resembles the Toyota Prius. This is because consumers want to make a special statement when purchasing a hybrid vehicle. They seem to like the look of the Prius. Finally, there is a mixing and matching of various models by automakers engaging in joint ownership. Ford and Chrysler own various brands and there is a synergy between them.
How will this influence the "cars of the future?" In reality, a new loosely-defined uniformity has arrived for the reasons listed above. There is little reason to believe this trend will simply dissipate. Variations will continue, but it appears that we won't be returning to the heady days of the 1950's. Those classic models will become dinosaurs for the most part.
It's already happening.
Anthony C. LoBaido is a journalist, ghostwriter and photographer. He has worked in 53 nations around the world – from Laos to Lebanon, from Belize to Botswana and from Nepal to Namibia. He also published a book on the Kurds. Some of LoBaido’s favorite stories include attending the British Army’s jungle warfare training in Central America, retracing Lawrence of Arabia’s World War I trek through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, investigating the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone as popularized in the Leonardo DiCaprio film by the same name, meeting “CNN hero” Aki Ra at one of his landmine digs in northern Cambodia, working with Time Magazine’s “Hero of Asia” Lek Chailert on her crusade to assist injured and abused elephants in Southeast Asia, rescuing HIV/Aids throw-away babies in the garbage dumps of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as visiting a leper colony in Myanmar. LoBaido’s articles have been cited by Ivy League universities such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. As a photographer, LoBaido made National Geographic in 2014.
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