Sharp-eyed consumers are likely to spot bizarrely-decorated and highly-concealed new cars at the local shopping mall, on the highways and city streets in Anytown, USA. It’s actually a kind of tricky dance that automakers do before officially introducing a brand-new or significantly redesigned vehicle.

Why Conceal the Car?

Depending on what stage of development the new vehicle is, designers and engineers don’t want to tip off the competition to the features, design, powertrain and other elements differentiating the vehicle.

They also want to whet the appetite of consumers and alert them to the fact – that they’ve probably already learned through reading automotive magazines in print and on the Web – that something new is coming.

But there’s also the very real necessity to test new vehicles in development in order to validate the various systems: powertrain, features, safety, fuel economy, wind resistance, just to name a few. That means taking them out on public roads where all can see – sort of.

The truth is that showing a new car too soon may be dicey. On the one hand, it may look entirely different when all is said and done and everything’s been signed off on the vehicle. On the other hand, it might turn out to be just the same as the early development vehicle in many respects and the photos have been out there so long they start to look stale.

No automaker wants all that development money and time wasted by revealing too soon what needs to wait. So they hide what they can.

How Do Automakers Hide the Goodies?

In essence, they use all sorts of gimmicks. Case in point is the 2016 Chevrolet Volt that is being teased, literally, with a photo of the Chevy Volt Chief Engineer Andrew Farah. The new Volt, eagerly awaited by those who want a new look for the extended-range gasoline-electric vehicle, is clad in an eye-grabbing medley of geometric shapes.

According to Chevy, some of the new car concealment tricks of the automotive trade include:

  • Good old bubble wrap – Yes, the kind and type you send off a lamp to be repaired or pile around dishes for a move. Lightweight and easy to layer, bubble wrap can nicely disguise what’s beneath. Other materials for camouflage include plastic, foam and vinyl.
  • 3D – Here, engineers use layers to throw off onlookers’ ability to discern the true shape beneath. But this has to be done carefully so as not to interfere with the car’s operation, specifically air airflow around the car.
  • Swirls – Long ago, it was just a grid pattern design, but today’s trend is toward swirls that boggle the eyes and sort of lose you in the process.
  • Black and white color scheme – This type of camouflage creates shadows that hide design elements of the vehicle.

As for the real deal, the debut of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt will be at the North American International Auto Show to be held in Detroit in January.

In the meantime, we’ve unearthed one teaser shot of a certain part of the eagerly-awaited 2016 Chevrolet Volt.

 

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