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Do "pretty" cars cost more to make than "ugly" cars?

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by ratsbew, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. ratsbew

    ratsbew Member

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    Are there any engineering reasons why attractive cars have to cost more than ugly cars? People love to own beautiful things. Jewelry is expensive mostly because it is nice to look at, not because of the material cost.

    I'm hoping that the Model 3 is a stunning car because it will get lots of people interested just because they want to own a beautiful object.
     
  2. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people like the look of things like Scions, but I think they look like they've been beaten with the ugly stick.

    Generally speaking, a longer car usually looks better than a small car and larger cars cost more. Luxury cars use more expensive materials than cheaper cars and usually those materials look better than those used in cheaper cars. So at least for the interior that's a factor too.
     
  3. David_Cary

    David_Cary Member

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    Right - some things are obviously expensive. Interior - no question.

    But I think the issue is around shape. The current cheap cars are going with tall and short which is certainly cheaper than long. But it can't cost that much money to make the shape attractive.

    Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder but we can all (even repubs and dems) can agree on many things. The Model S is more attractive than the Leaf. I have both and I agree with this sentiment. So does a strong majority (maybe 95+%). Most people think the Model 3 will be more attractive than the Bolt. But if the Model 3 has the Bolt shape - then it may be in the eye of the beholder.

    I think Elon has a certain taste. I don't think the 3 will look like the Bolt. But it won't be as pretty as the S. Just my thoughts.

    Rims and tires really make the look of a car. They cost money. Fat tires really cost money and really contribute to the looks more than I think people realize.
     
  4. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    I'd assume that there must be a reason why cars used to be very square.
     
  5. Mike_C

    Mike_C Member

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    I work in the automotive industry (OEM), and my insight is as follows:

    - To design a beautiful car costs more; a 2D sketch will be the same whatever you come up with, but to get the right proportions and interactions between all the various components that make up a vehicle is not an easy task, particularly when you add in complexities such as drag, etc.

    - To make a beautiful car will also cost more; the fit and finish of parts, the quality of materials used, the finishes on those parts, they all cost money. For instance, a halogen bulb headlight could cost a manufacturer as little as $20-$30 in the past; a much prettier, modern full LED headlamp could easily be well over $200 cost price. Multiply that sort of increase over an entire vehicle and you get an idea of why a modern, beautiful car will cost more to make than a cheaper, uglier (less thought-out) one.
     
  6. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    With a small car, the designers have less real estate to work with. The car needs to be big enough for normal sized people (unless you're designing children's toys), which puts limitations on the design. With a large car, you have some room to add embellishments without making the driver into a hunchback. But with a small car there isn't much room for flourishes, so you either end up with a small sports car which only seats two and has almost no cargo space like an MG, or you get a boxy, ugly thing like a lot of modern economy cars.

    Most small cars are also sold to fairly pragmatic buyers who are shopping on price primarily. They need reliable transportation that will get them from point A to point B. People with large families on budgets have gone for mini-vans for almost 30 years now. Mini-vans are generally boxy, utilitarian vehicles. Most other larger vehicles are sold to people who have a bit more to spend and these people do shop more based on styling than low end car buyers.

    As for rims and tires, I think the current fashion of low profile tires looks silly. I hate the look of the 21 inch wheels on the Model S and I've actually thought about getting some 17 inch rims and tires when I get mine. Though I've read the Continental tires used on the Model S are the quietest available and I don't see where they come in 17 inches.
     
  7. Cebe

    Cebe Member

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    Engineering packaging gets in the way as well - the established manufacturers will tweak the platform at best, so once you have something that is "ugly" (in the eyes of the beholder) in the proportions, you're stuck with it for a long time. When you have a chance to go from scratch (like Tesla or small volume manufacturers), you can often start with the shape you want and force the engineering packaging to match.

    If you design ugly cars, young designers with fresh ideas don't want to work in that place. It self perpetuates.

    Somebody asked about the square cars - that was a manufacturing issue. The more curvy the panels are, the more bounce back after pressing the sheet metal, harder to keep the gaps even, etc. I recall Toyota saying they were making curvy cars (this would have been the 80s or 90s) because the Koreans didn't know how (at the time.)
     
  8. McHoffa

    McHoffa Member

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    Don't forget that paying a good designer costs a lot more than paying someone that doesn't have a great sense of style.
     
  9. Model 3

    Model 3 Active Member

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    Agree! But mind you, 17" don't fit on an Model S. In theory I think you could fit 18", but I have heard on none that have done that successfully yet... So I think you will get stuck with the 19"...
     
  10. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    Cars bodies used to be designed using mostly lines and arcs. This allowed for parts to be accurately dimensioned by a paper blueprint, so all the parts would fit together. Even early CAD systems still could only accurately work with lines and arcs, "french curves" were hit and miss as far as production accuracy goes.

    Then 3D CAD software became more powerful by it's ability to work with cubic parametric or non-rational B-spline surfaces. These are free-form shapes that can be mathematically defined as tight as you like. Normal resolution was on the order of 0.1 microns internally. This was derived from the aerospace software, I'm thinking Unigraphics (McDonnell Douglas?) was the hot ticket back then.

    This allowed accelerated curve parts to be manufactured accuracy so panels would fit even with different suppliers.

    A modern car has virtually no flat planes or pure arcs. Look at the back window of a pickup. Looks flat right? It's a complex 3D shape with a non-linear curve in both axis.

    The switch to aerospace software was not for beauty. Complex shapes have better airflow than lines and arcs. Airfoils are not arcs anywhere. All the curves are 3rd order or better.
     
  11. MiamiNole

    MiamiNole Member

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    +1 McRat, your post was the answer that I wanted to give for this thread, but I didn't have nearly enough know-how to say it as accurately as you! Kudos!

    I guess to answer the original question of the TC, I would think that, since that type of design software and manufacturing tools are pretty much standard in the industry, the cost to manufacture the curves of today's "pretty" cars isn't significant.
     
  12. SteveW25561

    SteveW25561 Member

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    Do "pretty" cars cost more to make than "ugly" cars?

    Hyundai cars I think be are generally felt to be quite attractive across their line (in fact some have compared Model S to some of the design cues seen in Hyundai models). They are often cheaper than comparable vehicles.

    I wonder if nicer design tends to be one way the car market tries to keep itself segmented.
     
  13. Big-T

    Big-T Member

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    That's interesting, so you're saying the boxy designs of cars in the 1980's had nothing realy to do with asthetic design per se, but rather had more to do with the technical limitations of Autocad/PC software at the time? I never thought of it that way
     
  14. ArtC

    ArtC Member

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    Plus 1
     
  15. EXOTIC1

    EXOTIC1 Member

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    FISKER arguably made one of the best looking sedan cars of all time and that didn't turn out well. Form over function.
     
  16. Brad_NC

    Brad_NC Member

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    As a hobby, I draw homes... it's all just for fun, but I'm a perfectionist, so it takes time.

    I can draw a 12,000 Sq. Ft. houseplan in 4-10 days (depends on how much I reuse from previous plans).

    A 4,000 Sq. Ft. houseplan will usually take about 3-7 days (the job is quite "normal-sized," and doesn't really require very much critical thinking).

    A 1,000 Sq. Ft. houseplan may take a 21-30 days, or more if I am trying to stick to specific exterior dimensions (like if I were designing around the limitations of storage containers).

    The smaller the item, the more important each detail is, and the more time perfecting each detail takes.

    Building small requires a very steady hand, a lot of precision, and copious amounts of discipline.


    A smaller car will take more time to perfect than a larger car... but that's relative. Tesla has been working on the Model ≡ for several years now.
     
  17. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    Tesla's 19 inch tires are 245/45R19. The outer diameter of those tires is 27.7 inches. Tesla's 21 inch wheels are 27.8 inches outer diameter. 245/55R17 tires have an outer diameter of 27.6 inches. With the right rims, they should fit and not mess up the odometer and speedometer. I had to make a bigger size change than that on my car the last time I got new tires. The tire size my car came with aren't made anymore. The odometer runs about 4 mph slow at 60 mph.

    The bolt pattern with new rims would have to match the 19 inch rims. That would be the only issue.
     
  18. tga

    tga Active Member

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    Pretty sure Model 3 means 17" rims won't fit over the brake rotors (so I've heard)
     
  19. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    That's a good point.
     
  20. scaesare

    scaesare Active Member

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    "[Why do other car companies just make horrible cars?] I don't know, it just blows my mind. You can take a body panel and stamp it with this shape or that shape and yet they choose to do the bad shape.. but it costs the same either way. There are some things that cost a little more in terms of the quality of materials and getting things to fit accurately.. so there are few things that cost more but a lot of it doesn't. You know, you can make an ugly expensive car, you can make a good looking expensive car.. and the same goes for affordable good looking cars or an ugly affordable car. I think the cost differences are really relatively small. I don't know. I think maybe large car companies are just trapped in their own history."


    -Elon Musk
     

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