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JT

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I posted the pics from the Calty studio here:

http://www.supramkv.com/threads/inside-caltys-studio-and-the-ft1-design-process.9/

Birth of a FT-1 concept
  • March 2012: Calty makes pitch to Toyota top management
  • May 2012: Toyota gives formal go-ahead for Calty to begin work
  • June 2012: Calty team takes field trip to Las Vegas Speedway
  • June 2012: Decision made for car to be front-engine/rear-drive layout
  • July-September 2012: Exterior sketch proposals
  • July-October 2012: Packaging drawings and renderings
  • September-November 2012: 15% and 40% scale clay models
  • December 2012-February 2013: Full-sized milled “hard” model
  • March 2013: Toyota top management OKs concept
  • May-June 2013: Calty “nip-and-tuck” of full-sized hard model
  • Summer 2013: Concept name decided: FT-1
  • July-November 2013: Fabrication of show car
  • January 2014: Unveiling of car at Detroit auto show
Editor's note: The inner sanctum of an automaker's design studio is as classified as a top-secret government spy shop. Even many top executives aren't allowed inside, much less civilians or the media. But after months of negotiations, Toyota Motor Corp. allowed Automotive Newsinside its Calty design studio in Newport Beach, Calif., to track the development of the FT-1 concept car. This is the story.

Kevin Hunter knew he had a winner.

Presenting a full-sized model of Toyota's next-generation sports car concept to a roomful of executives in Nagoya was going to be a pressure-packed performance. What if Toyota Motor CEO Akio Toyoda didn't like the car? What if the Japanese design chief wanted big changes made? Would there be enough time to make changes before the public unveiling at the Detroit auto show in January, less than nine months away?

But Hunter, the quiet, reserved president of Toyota's Calty Design Research studio in Newport Beach, Calif., had an ace up his sleeve.

In addition to the in-your-face styling of the FT-1 concept he was presenting, the Calty team had brought along a video-gaming pod with a Gran Turismo simulation of the FT-1 installed.

After giving the gleaming red sports car an approving walk-around, Toyoda climbed into the gaming pod, tearing off virtual hot laps at Toyota's home track, Fuji Speedway.

After a few minutes, he climbed out of the pod, beaming that the FT-1 was faster than his real-world lap time in an actual racecar.

Hunter breathed easier. He knew the concept was a go.

A spiritual pace car

The process of getting a sports car concept approved in the first place had started a year earlier, and with no less uncertainty.

Ever since the recession showed signs of easing, the Calty studio had wanted to build an outrageous high-performance concept car.

So when Hunter attended a meeting of Toyota's top management in March 2012 for a design briefing, he gently borrowed Akio Toyoda's recent edict: No more boring cars. Toyoda had publicly expressed worry that the automaker had become saddled with a reputation for conservative vehicles that evoked as much emotion as a dishwasher.

The Toyota brand sells millions of Corollas, Camrys and compact pickups worldwide. But it had no spiritual pace car in its current portfolio. As he entered the management meeting room for his original pitch, Hunter thought to himself: What could be less boring than bringing back a sports car for the Toyota brand?

Hunter's idea was for a concept car that could generate excitement at an upcoming auto show. This would not be a flight of fancy, but a halo car that would tickle show-goers with the idea that Toyota might actually produce such a vehicle.

As he gave his presentation, Hunter watched for reactions. Toyoda seemed excited, as did Mitsuhisa Kato, Toyota's new executive r&d chief, as well as Hunter's boss, global design czar Tokuo Fukuichi.

After Hunter left the room, the gathered executives eyed their CEO, the scion of Toyota's founding family. Fukuichi asked Toyoda and Kato if they thought the concept was worthy of a green light.

Akio looked at his team, and said, "Let's do it."

Generation gap

It may seem counterintuitive, but designing a sports car is the toughest challenge a stylist can undertake. On one hand, it's what every designer has dreamed of since doodling during high school algebra. No one aspires to sketch a minivan.

But the pressure to create such a brand statement is unreal. Just ask the guy in charge of updating the Porsche 911 or Ford Mustang. The result must be gorgeous and awe-inspiring, of course. But it also must conform to the company's design ethos without breaking myriad governmental regulations.

One false line — perhaps the hood must be raised by an inch to comply with European pedestrian-crash safety laws — and the car's aura can be compromised.

Over a lightning-fast 18 months, Calty's caffeine-

fueled designers, stylists, modelers and cultural ethnographers would work overtime to transform a clean-sheet idea into a prospective scene-stealer at the Detroit auto show.

Calty chief designer Alex Shen's portfolio already included a couple of Toyota sporty cars, including the

FT-HS concept and Scion FR-S production coupe. But after 20 years at Calty, this was something different: a once-in-a-career opportunity, as Shen calls it, to make "a kick-ass sports car."

When the 46-year-old Shen assembled his team in spring 2012 to start formulating ideas that would evolve into the concept, one car's name kept popping up: Supra.

It's one of the few vehicles in the Toyota lineup that actually has a sporty heritage in the United States. But the last Supra twin-turbocharged sports car was sold here in 2002.

"The perception in Japan was that the Supra was a good sports car," Hunter said. "In Japan, Supra is just another product in a long series of good products. They were unaware of its cult status here.

"But our designers, when we're out socially, when people ask us what we do, the very first question they all seem to ask is, 'When is the next Supra coming?'"


Calty's designers asked themselves how the Supra would have evolved had Toyota kept redesigning it. By 2014, two more generations of the vehicle would have passed through customer hands and another redesign would be arriving this year. What would it look like by now?

Turns out Toyota HQ didn't want Calty to be completely hamstrung by focusing its design on Supra-think. After several rounds of transoceanic meetings, it was decided to not attach the Supra name to the concept. Not only did that ease the pressure of expectations, but it gave the design team more freedom of expression.

They didn't know what to call the concept; it just wouldn't be "Supra." Eventually, the car would be known as FT-1, as in "Future Toyota," with "1" representing "the ultimate."

"The FT-1 concept pays homage to Toyota's entire sports car heritage, including the Celica, Supra and, before that, the iconic 2000GT," Fukuichi said in an e-mail interview. "The FT-1 is meant to be an extension of this historic lineage, but not a replacement or reinvention."

Before putting pencil to paper, the Calty team went to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in June 2012 and drove the track's amassed collection of European exotic cars. The intent was not to pillage other companies' collective ideas but to see how other automakers approached the idea of a modern sports car and to explore how Toyota's styling language fit into that realm.

"It was more than a field trip," said William Chergosky, Calty's interior chief designer, a grin escaping his attempt at a poker face.

The group came back with so many opinions that every designer in the studio was allowed to sketch his or her own ideas for the concept.

"Everyone had their own vision of a Toyota sports car," Shen said. "We went around the room to get ideas, and there were obvious words like 'sexy.' But what kind of sexy should it be? There could be nothing trite or contrived about it. It had to attract and perform."

Through the summer of 2012, a circular wall of sketches was created in the studio, where designers slapped their various inspirations for the vehicle's form.

"It's something you feel and see that influences the way it looks," Chergosky said. "But it also comes back to the obvious: You don't want to overthink it. It's not superintellectual. You want to appeal to the inner 12-year-old. If you don't feel it, throw it out."

At Calty, stylists generally are directed not to become locked into their first sketches but to let new ideas flow — especially if they're working on the brand's halo car. Doodling is encouraged. Much of the best work comes from designers on their lunch hour, taking a break from other assigned projects.

For three months, Calty's designers drew their interpretations, with Hunter's caveat of "so long as the car looks like it came from Toyota, not from Ferrari or Chevy or Dodge."

"Even though we were designing the car in America, there was some exoticness to being true to Japan's culture and who we are as a company," Hunter said. "Everyone has their own identity. It's hard to wedge a new car into a place where people don't say, 'Ooh, it looks like a Corvette,' or whatever. We didn't want to go off in a direction where we missed our target. We didn't want to rely on fashion."

'The perfect one'

Typically, when designing a concept car, Toyota engineers give Calty a vehicle's dimensions, along with instructions on packaging and the "hard points" where chassis and body structure should meet. But in this case the studio did its own proportioning work for the wheelbase, width and overhangs, Shen said.

Andrew MacLachlan, the FT-1's concept planner, noted that while Calty was given a clean slate, the team also knew that Fukuichi and Toyota's top executives in Japan had to approve the work. Calty enlisted Toyota Racing Development engineers to ensure that the car's aerodynamics were legit.

Added Shen: "This was to be a design-focused vehicle, not engineering-based. This was what designers' ideal proportions of what a sports car should be."

A key decision early on: where to place the engine?

Although the 2000GT of the late '60s, the first-generation Celica and all Supras have had a front-engine/rear-wheel-drive setup, the MR-2 was mid-engined. Many Ferraris and Lamborghinis have engines located behind the driver, and the 911 famously parked the engine behind the rear axle. When it comes to sports cars, there is no simple right answer.

"We spent a lot of time deciding on stance and proportion, whether it should be front-engine/rear-drive or a midship-mounted engine," Shen said.

"Everyone had their own vision of what makes a Toyota sports car."

The consensus was to have a front-mounted engine, located mostly behind the front axle.

Because designers have egos, "Every designer thought their [sketch] was the perfect one, so we had to manage that," Shen said with a laugh.

The exterior design emerged from there. No single sketch won the contest; an amalgam of ideas was mashed into one final design sketch.

It was the fall of 2012. With little more than a year before the car would be unveiled, it was time to start making small clay models.

Meanwhile, the interior design team had started working on packaging. The passenger compartment was being designed "like a slingshot, where the driver is the projectile," Chergosky said.

Although a concept car gives license to be dramatic, Chergosky's team wanted elements that could be passable in a production car.

The cabin headliner couldn't look "like a big piece of dryer lint." The engine brace that protrudes into the cabin was designed "to take something mundane and make it amazing." The head-up display looked pulled from a fighter jet.

"We wanted to fall in love with each element," said the 43-year-old Chergosky. "We went the extra mile."

As the interior and exterior began taking shape, Hunter took a rather laissez-faire approach to his marching orders, distilling it down to "convince me that it's cool." This from a 53-year-old boss who has a Captain Picard Star Trek uniform hanging in the corner of his office and a Batman Pez dispenser on his desk.

Scaling up

From the collection of final sketches, Calty modelers took the two months before Christmas 2012 to sculpt six 15 percent scale models and mill four interior bucks. There still was no clear winner.

"We were looking at ideas for potential," Shen said. "There was a lot of, 'I'm not sure about this.' There were a lot of discussions. It was kind of like therapy, with who saw what, and what felt better. It was an emotionally driven design process."

Rather than pick a winner, intriguing elements were taken from each clay model, and a series of 40 percent scale models attempted to harmonize those elements into one final design. Shen calls the process "functional sculpting," which is meant to be "emotional … juicy with purpose, but not frivolous."

One problem: What looked great at 40 percent didn't look so great when blown up to a full-scale packaging study. It did not feel right, Hunter said. The wheelbase was too long. The car looked "a little fluffy," like it had too much mass.

Time was running out. The new year was starting, and the time-consuming milling of a full-sized "hard" model had to begin. The sign-off meeting with top management in Japan was barely two months away.

Final sign-off

Within that two months, the wheelbase was shortened, the hood line and the rear three-quarter view were thinned to have more snap in the center line. The exhaust pipes were beefed up, and the taillights were given more zip. The rear deck received more aerodynamic treatment. And a huge rear spoiler sprouted from the trunk lid.

Still smelling of a mixture of composite materials, sweat and coffee, the full-sized model was crated up and loaded into the cargo hold of a jet bound for Japan, along with the Gran Turismo gaming pod that had been specially programmed by Polyphony Digital.

After Akio Toyoda's video-gaming exploits sealed the deal, approval was granted to build a show car — one able to propel itself onto a stage and be subject to scrutiny from the world's automotive executives and media.

Like most design studios, Calty doesn't have the machinery to build a self-propelling prototype from scratch. Instead, Calty called upon fabricator Five Axis, located just up Interstate 405, which had created a lengthy portfolio of Toyota, Lexus and Scion auto show concept vehicles.

"We just dropped off the data," Hunter says. He's kidding.

Transforming software coding into a milled model, and then into a working, breathing machine has hundreds of ways to go wrong. Even though all the numbers might appear to add up in the Alias design software, the scissor-hinged doors might not open properly when the car is shown to the world's automotive press. Or the interior might not align quite right with the exterior. A solenoid might not work, and the cool rear spoiler might not pop up from the trunk lid. Come auto show time, any error could be a career-shortening embarrassment.

For the next five months, a team of 15 Calty designers, modelers and fabricators invaded Toyota's secured space at Five Axis to build and perfect the FT-1. Toyota wouldn't reveal the price of the project, but concept cars typically cost about $1 million.

Finally, the concept rolled into Calty's shop at the end of November, to receive final detailing before being shipped to Detroit for last Monday's introduction.

Back in Orange County, as the car sat in repose in the dimmed, high-ceilinged Calty staging area, the three top designers gathered for video interview sessions. Normally, designers get no feedback on their work until it is shown to the public, for better or worse. But this is a rare exception.

Turning the tables, Shen looked at a reporter and asked — his voice a swirling mixture of pride and confidence, with just a hint of uncertainty: "What do you think?"
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TorqueRules

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Calty is top notch. Awesome post, thanks for putting it up.
 

Loyo911

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Great read! Wish I was a fly on the wall at the studio... talk about a dream job.
 

910ps

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It makes sense not only because of the toyota connection but look at the design. It's got a lot of similar lines... altho the FT1 is way more stunning IMO.

13-scion-fr-s-concept-ny-1303323969.jpg




toyota-ft-1-concept-salon-de-detroit-2014-11071437nnnwd.jpg
 

FRS-Man

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Very interesting that Five Axis played a role in the design. Does make sense tho..for anyone not familiar, they made the FR-S concept.

They also supply the factory Scion body kits and wheels.
 

Supra93

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Toyota (Official): Toyota FT-1 Press Release and Overview Video


From Virtual to Reality? Toyota FT-1 Concept Sets the Pace for Future Design

Company answers Akio Toyoda’s call for design revolution, more heart-pounding design
Stunning design draws on Toyota’s rich sports car history
Calty Design Research celebrates 40th anniversary with ultimate design concept


January 13, 2014
Fabulous Toyota FT-1 Concept Is Ready to Drive January 14
Toyota’s Calty Design Research Celebrates Its 40th Year and a Rich Sports Car Design Heritage

DETROIT, Michigan (Jan. 13, 2014) - Toyota virtually blew the doors off the North American International Auto Show with the reveal of the stunning FT-1 sports car concept. First devised by Calty Design Research in the Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo game environment, FT-1 leapt from the screen to the stage in a race-inspired press conference at COBO Hall.*

The name says it all. FT-1 stands for “Future Toyota,” and the number “1” represents the ultimate. According to its designers at Calty Design Research, the FT-1 Concept is the ultimate expression of a Toyota coupe design, building upon Toyota’s rich sports coupe heritage dating back to the 2000GT, Celica, Supra, MR2 and most recently Scion FR-S. In addition, the concept draws inspiration from Calty’s more recent sports car concept work such as FT-HS (2007) and the Lexus LF-LC (2012).

The project started nearly two years ago and represents a labor of love by a passionate, dedicated and gifted Calty design team. “The FT-1 is a dream-project for a designer and car enthusiast like myself,” said Alex Shen, Calty’s Studio Chief Designer. “Our team was heavily influenced by Toyota’s sports car past, especially Celica and Supra, and we sought to capture some of that history. It is an aggressive, track-focused sports car concept with a presence that has been amplified for shock and awe.”

The FT-1’s audacious design represents the pinnacle of Calty’s 40th year of operation. Guided by the Toyota design ethos of Vibrant Clarity, a unique fusion of both emotional and rational factors that delivers a more exciting and dramatic design expression with unique Toyota identity, the concept is a spiritual pace car for Toyota Global Design. The goal of this ideological shift is to develop future generations of products that better connect emotionally with Toyota’s global consumer base.

Traditionally, Toyota’s design decisions have been driven by consensus among a large group of stakeholders. Under Akio Toyoda’s stated directive to invigorate Toyota products with energy, passion and “Waku-Doki” (translation: a palpable heart-pounding sense of excitement), the approval process has been streamlined. This new approach aims to produce cars that connect more deeply with customers, generating a more satisfying ownership experience that complements Toyota’s legendary reputation for quality, dependability and reliability.

“Function-sculpting” design language yields curved, muscular, expressive body forms seemingly shaped by the wind. Inlets, ducting, and vents are features of the exterior design that help reinforce its track–ready nature with elements of purposeful airflow management. At higher speeds a retractable rear wing deploys and tilts forward to create additional downforce. The body’s athleticism is expressed with taut surfaces and dramatic fender forms that seduce the eyes when covered in an unapologetically red hue.

The front engine rear-wheel drive configuration locates the cockpit far rearward within the wheelbase to improve weight distribution. This design element also helps create the classic sportscar proportions one would expect from a vehicle poised to dominate even the most challenging road course. The cockpit’s wraparound windshield and side glass openings are a distinct nod to the design of the legendary Toyota 2000GT.

The interior is a focused, highly functional “place of business” that locates the driver at the controls behind an F1 inspired steering-wheel. The intimate, low slung cockpit has its A-pillars set far back to help optimize cornering vision and sensation of the cabin’s intimacy. A delta-shaped display zone surrounds and integrates the driver to provide an exhilarating sense of being connected to the vehicle. The cockpit’s sense of minimalism adds to the purposefulness of the driver-focused environment with an emphasis on light weight components such as the composite seat covered with just the right amount of padding in only the areas that come into contact with the driver. A color heads-up display keeps the driver’s attention on the road ahead, with vital information projected just above the steering wheel within the driver’s line of sight.

While technical specifications do not accompany the concept, one can assume that the FT-1 represents an ideally balanced front-engine, rear wheel-drive layout that is powered by a high-technology, high performance internal combustion engine. Beneath a transparent glass hood, an ambiguous engine cover hides a powerplant left to the imagination of the onlooker.

In preparation for pitching the concept to Toyota management, Calty worked with Polyphony Digital, creators of the popular Gran Turismo driving simulator, to bring FT-1 to life in a virtual world that captured the excitement, passion and performance conveyed by the concept model. Toyota executives were offered the opportunity to take FT-1 for a timed lap around a computer-generated Fuji Speedway. Behind the wheel of the concept, Toyota president Akio Toyoda, an accomplished race car driver, completed the virtual circuit faster than his best real-world lap time at Fuji in his LFA. From that moment, he was convinced and the concept was approved to be built in model-form for the international auto show circuit.

For Toyota, this concept embodies the possibilities of the new and exciting design mission ahead. “Sports cars represent the ultimate driving expression in its purest form. As car enthusiasts ourselves, this is the kind of project we dream about working on,” said Calty Design Research president Kevin Hunter. “Beyond its obvious five-alarm visual impact, FT-1 is symbolic of a new chapter for Toyota Global Design. This provocative concept truly captures the passion, excitement, and energy of the Toyota we are evolving into and embodies elements of the emotion and performance that Toyota will imprint upon future production designs.”

*Toyota's North American design studio, CALTY initiated, conceptualized, and styled the FT-1 concept. Sony/Polyphony did not influence the creative vehicle design process. The Gran Turismo 6 Real Driving Simulator was used as a pitch tool with top management to gain approval for the final Calty designed concept.
 

<TC OFF>

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Very interesting that Five Axis played a role in the design. Does make sense tho..for anyone not familiar, they made the FR-S concept.

They also supply the factory Scion body kits and wheels.
Had no idea until reading this too.

The FR-S concept was just stunning, so Five Axis now has a great recent track record when it comes to putting together gorgeous Toyota concepts.
 

NeroZ

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Had no idea until reading this too.

The FR-S concept was just stunning, so Five Axis now has a great recent track record when it comes to putting together gorgeous Toyota concepts.
The Five Axis made FR-S concept was still the best looking one, even better than the actual production model and I say that as an owner. Their kit and wheels for the FR-S are just about my favorite ones too (but pricy).

Hope Toyota keeps them involved when making the updated concepts and for the final production Supra.
 

323 Rider

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Almost 2 full years from the first pitch to the concept debut. Wish someone could update this timeline to let us know if the production car has been approved and if/when a production concept has started.
 

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Article on how car and video game makers have collaborated. Special mention of the Toyota FT-1 concept :headbang:

http://www.thenational.ae/arts-life...convergence-of-video-games-and-carmakers#full

Pixelate my ride – the convergence of video games and carmakers

January 8, 2015

The car industry has, haltingly, finally started to embrace the digital age. It’s still a tentative embrace – more an embarrassed man hug, in many cases – but those ones and zeros are gradually becoming an integral part of every aspect of the carmakers’ businesses.

These days, no new model can be made without the aid of computers, from the computer-aided design (CAD) in the studios to the precision required by engineers designing and testing componentry.

Showrooms are also embracing digital technology, with many now offering tools to help you spec your car, on a tablet or, in some cases, some very sophisticated, multi-gesture, multi-screen technology. And connected car technology is becoming increasingly important to cars and car buyers, as cars become an important part of the “internet of things” phenomenon.

But there’s another use of digital technology that car manufacturers are increasingly using as a way of making their products more relevant and attractive to a generation of consumers who have hitherto been immune to the industry’s enticements. Carmakers have learnt that if you want to get cars and car brands seen by the under-35-year-old demographic, you need to place them in a video game.

The global video-game industry is currently valued at about US$93 billion (Dh341.6bn), with an estimated 1.78bn gamers worldwide. Throughout the history of video games, car-racing role-playing games have always been hugely popular, from 1973’s Speed Race (developed by Tomohiro Nishikado, who later went to design Space Invaders) to the highly developed, graphically complex driving simulators of today.

At the same time, millennial consumers – those born between 1982 and the turn of the millennium – have increasingly become less interested in cars and driving. For example, in the previously car-reliant/dependent United States, the number of cars purchased by people between the ages of 18 and 34 from 2007 to 2011 fell almost 30 per cent. And, in a major break with the past, a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered that only 44 per cent of teenagers obtain a driver’s licence within the first year of becoming eligible and just 54 per cent are licensed before turning 18.

It’s the same in Japan, where a survey of 1,700 20- and 30-something consumers by Nihon Shimbun, the country’s biggest business newspaper, found that the proportion of men in their 20s who wanted a car fell from 48 per cent in 2000 to 25 per cent in 2007. The number of drivers under 30 also halved between 1993 and 2005.

The story is repeated in Europe. Figures from the Department for Transport in the car-mad United Kingdom also show that the proportion of 17- to 20-year-olds with driving licences had fallen from 48 per cent in 1993 to 31 per cent in 2011: the proportion of 21- to 29-year-olds similarly fell from 75 per cent to 63 per cent over the same period.

All over the developed world, young people no longer see the car as the liberating force that it has traditionally been. They don’t need it to go and see their friends – Skype fulfils that function – and growing up with the message that cars are contributing to climate change means that they see the act of eschewing the car as the environmental responsibility of a good global citizen.

At the same time, they can get their driving kicks virtually through the increasingly sophisticated games they play on PlayStations and Xboxes. The likes of Forza Motorsport, Need for Speed and Gran Turismo offer incredibly realistic graphics and a thoroughly immersive experience. Most real-world driving is nowhere near as exciting or involving as a video game, so it’s not surprising that many of the young people who have been playing these games since their teens are unmoved by the thought of obtaining a licence.

It has dawned on carmakers that video games are an ideal platform to market their brands to gamers, planting the seed of desirability at a young age, hoping that it will flower into a purchasing decision at some point in the (often distant) future.

So from a point where some manufacturers wouldn’t allow their cars to be used in early video games, now they’re not only engaging with the game creators, but are being proactive in ensuring that their latest models appear in games. The car companies are not even waiting to put cars into production before placing them in video games: these days, you can even virtually drive a concept car.

This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon: 2002’s Gran Turismo Concept 2002 Tokyo-Geneva allowed gamers to race concept cars from that year’s Tokyo and Geneva motor shows. But it was taken to a new level in 2014 when Toyota’s FT-1 concept was unveiled at the Detroit motor show and then available to download for virtual use in Gran Turismo the following day.

Indeed, the digitising of the car was an integral part of the process of the concept’s creation. The design team at Toyota’s Calty Design Research studio in California worked with Gran Turismo’s creators, Polyphony Digital, to bring the FT-1 to life in a virtual world. Toyota executives were then offered the opportunity to take the FT-1 for a timed lap around a computer-generated representation of Japan’s Fuji Speedway circuit. Behind the wheel of the concept, the Toyota president Akio Toyoda (an experienced race-car driver himself) completed the virtual circuit faster than his best real-world lap time at Fuji in a Lexus LFA supercar, which convinced him to sign off the concept. The fact that the virtual FT-1 preceded the actual car displayed in real life meant that Toyota could distribute it to gamers around the world almost as soon as they read about it on car websites (and before they read about it in traditional print magazines). It obviously helped that the futuristic FT-1 sports coupé is exactly the kind of car that will appeal to young, (predominantly) male racing gamers.


Obviously gaming has evolved in recent years, so consoles are not the only game platform in town. Games on mobile devices (where users are prepared to pay for gaming apps) are the fastest-growing segment of the market, with revenue set to rise between 2013 and 2015 from $13.2bn to $22bn, according to Gartner Research. The car companies have this covered, too, developing their own branded racing game apps.

Volkswagen, for example, has developed Challenge games for a number of its models, including the Touareg, Golf, Scirocco, Polo and Up. These are racing games that allow gamers to put themselves in the cars – and allow the German carmaker to have a presence on the gamer’s device, reinforcing their brand message every time they look at the desktop screen. Admittedly, the gamer will almost inevitably become bored of the game and delete it, but by then the subconscious connection has been made between the model/brand and a fun experience.

So car companies are obviously expending a great deal of energy and resource in trying to influence potential consumers, building brand relationships that will bear fruit in the future. But is this also a two-way street? Will attempting to appeal to gamers result in car companies designing real cars influenced by video games?

This process has arguably already started with a project initiated by Polyphony Digital. Vision Gran Turismo, which celebrates the game’s 15th anniversary, involves a host of car manufacturers designing unique two-door grand tourers to appear in Gran Turismo 6, a challenge that a number of them have fully embraced. Ten carmakers – Mercedes-Benz AMG, BMW, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Aston Martin, Toyota, Subaru, Chevrolet and Infiniti – have already unveiled their cars, with the likes of Audi, Honda, Ford, Hyundai, Mini and Lamborghini still to release designs that they hope will wow the gaming generation.

It’s clear from the cars already available that the manufacturers have included features that will appeal to gamers. For example, the Mercedes has an engine note that has been “composed” by sound specialists at AMG, which will no doubt sound glorious for serious gamers with a TV connected to a soundbar speaker. The Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV Evolution model, meanwhile, appeals to the green sensibilities of younger gamers, caring as it does for the virtual environment with a plug-in electric hybrid system.

The design teams behind these virtual concepts have clearly thought long and hard about what young gamers/future consumers want to see in a car: Aston Martin’s designers spent a full six months on its DP-100, hand-sketching and 3-D modelling, followed by fully realising it in the virtual world. They’ve taken the process seriously, seeing the process of designing for the gaming crowd (and gaining their approval) as part of the process of designing future real-world cars – the company says that some of the design cues visible in DP-100, such as the light blade rear lamps, could also feed through into forthcoming production sports cars.

Toyota’s contribution is an updated version of the FT-1 – yes, a concept car that hasn’t even become part of the model line-up and it has already been revised, just like a production car.

The connection to the real world is tangible if you look at the Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo, then look at the recently launched Mercedes-AMG GT. There’s a clear relationship between the virtual car and the real one: the wheel arches aren’t quite as lairy and the roof is lower to the ground, but they’re definitely siblings.

Designing for a game – or simulator – such as Gran Turismo, which has sold more than 70 million copies since its launch in 1997, is clearly a valuable exercise for the carmakers. The close relationship they now have with the game designers, and their ability to monitor gamer forums, means that they can use feedback from gamers to inform future models, in the hope that if they build it, they will come (to the showrooms).

The cars of the future will be subject to all kinds of new influences and technologies, but buyers’ expectations will undoubtedly be moulded, in part, by their experiences today on virtual roads and tracks. Add augmented reality displays on windscreens into the mix and drivers of the future could find themselves forgetting if they’re digital or analogue.
 
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divinesteer

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It's good for everyone, just like how they use 3D printers more and more for parts and prototypes. It's a cheap way to test out parts and performance before investing billions. The lead time from concept to production cuts down big time too.
 

FXuser

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Lesson learned by everyone at Toyota: give Akio Toyoda a ringer of a video game race car so he'll approve it :)

Now they need to actually make the badass Vision Gran Turismo FT-1 into a real life concept car.
 

supraninja

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Almost 2 full years from the first pitch to the concept debut. Wish someone could update this timeline to let us know if the production car has been approved and if/when a production concept has started.
Feasibility study done and onto the concept stage. It's about as close to a green light for production as we have right now. As this was just announced I would not expect a "real" concept anytime soon.

http://www.supramkv.com/threads/news-bmw-ft1-supra-project-moves-into-concept-stage.23/
 

Hal

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I love how fast info moves these days and would never choose to go back to before the internet, but anyone get nostalgic when thinking back to waiting for the next issue of a car magazine to show up in their mailboxes?

Nowadays you can even drive a concept car virtually before you get to see it in person.
 
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