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      02-13-2015, 12:42 AM   #1
gymtime
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Why are all cars starting to look the same?

It seems that almost every new car on the road looks the same. The same bland, bloated design with high bulky hood lines. I can barely tell any models apart in a make's lineup...example:



And then most of those designs are nearly identical to other makes




I remember around 2000 to 2008 that were all kinds of unique designs even in the sedan and SUV area. That seemed to be the peak of car design when it came to variety. After 2009 it started to go downhill.

Any idea?

Last edited by gymtime; 02-13-2015 at 01:07 AM.
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      02-13-2015, 08:50 AM   #2
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Think about it, every car on the road can technically be used as free marketing.

So if you are working for BMW and you are head of marketing, the first thing you would do is make your entire line up somehow resemble each other this way each vehicle can then be used to market BMW every time somebody see's it.

I know plenty of people that confuse a 3, 5 and 5, 7 series on the road. Same goes for X3, X5 and X4, X6. To an untrained eye, they all look like what.... a BMW!!! And thats the point. Every vehicle in their lineup represents "BMW".
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      02-13-2015, 08:54 AM   #3
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Sure, but there's a very distinct difference between having similar styling cues (a characteristic look) and simply being a small-medium-large version of essentially the same car, which is what has happened with many brands. I'm looking at you, Audi. And don't think BMW is innocent as the F10 and F30s are nearly indistinguishable from many angles.

The E46 (3er), E39 (5er), and E38 (7er) were quite disticnt in design yet instantly recognizable as BMWs. I think it comes down to lazy design.
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      02-13-2015, 09:52 AM   #4
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Design continuity.
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      02-13-2015, 10:01 AM   #5
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because carmakers are unimaginative turds these days....ALL the brands are doing this. GONE are the days of individual models having their own style and identity....now there are just larger and smaller versions of the same car. I blame Audi for homogenizing the idea of a 'brand look' in modern cars. Other carmakers like BMW did this in the past....but Audi's single frame grille really ruined everyone, IMO....
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      02-13-2015, 10:01 AM   #6
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Think back into the 80's for a moment. Camaro, Firebird, Trans-am.


No matter what, there are going to be designs that are eventually going to flow into each other, some with subtle differences and others with pretty distinguishable differences. Back then all cars were square as shit, now cars are more curvacious. I think even though cars look quite a bit alike, they're more pleasing to see on the road than most anything from the 70's, 80's, 90's, and hell even a lot of 2000 models are hideous.
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      02-13-2015, 10:50 AM   #7
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i wonder if it's cheaper too. the templates just need to be resized and i wouldn't be surprised if some parts are identical.

mind you, i really have no idea. just a thought.
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      02-13-2015, 11:58 AM   #8
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Bring back Bangle
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      02-13-2015, 12:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billup View Post
Think back into the 80's for a moment. Camaro, Firebird, Trans-am.
Well in the Trans-Am's defense, it was really a Firebird Trans-Am and was essentially an upgrade package so there was rightfully tremendous resemblance. As I'm sure you know, it also shared a chassis with the Camaro which made them cousins from the start.

Platform sharing is one thing but S-M-L of the same exact styling is boring and lazy.
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      02-13-2015, 12:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtron View Post
i wonder if it's cheaper too. the templates just need to be resized and i wouldn't be surprised if some parts are identical.

mind you, i really have no idea. just a thought.
Aside from engines, I doubt they share many components that would save any significant amount of money. It just seems like they come up with one design then say "ok, now make one smaller and one bigger - go!"
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      02-13-2015, 12:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kred View Post
Bring back Bangle
I know right? First it was too radical, now it's too bland and boring. Make up your minds folks
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      02-13-2015, 12:20 PM   #12
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1) universal design languages create a stronger brand identity, and it helps [non-enthusiast] people recognize certain brands on the road more readily. so it helps to not only have subtle uniformity in areas like character lines and brightwork, but having a big, fat grille with your signature tweaks is like shining a brand logo for everyone to see.

2) cars have always followed trends. have you noticed how similar cars look depending on what time period you choose? cars from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, so on and so forth follow trends that are largely dictated by regulations, construction techniques, and other factors that impact the industry at a given moment.

3) focusing strictly on safety regs (crash safety, pedestrian impact), there's a lot of planning around what can and can't be done in order to meet updated requirements; raised hoods to create space between the top of the engine, headlights and taillights stretched around chamfered corners so that people can spot them from the side, raised beltlines to aid side-impact testing, and fattened A/B/C pillars to make room for airbags and additional roll-over safety. you also can't have cool, sharp looking elements for fear that it could create a safety issue for pedestrians. these are just a few examples. designers have a difficult job of working around a preset amount of hardpoints because of this.

4) fuel economy - you'll notice how cars are shaped with fewer protruding surfaces, especially around wheel arches. you'll see things like little black slats attached to the backs of C and D pillars on the backs of hatches, wagons, and SUVs in order to improve drag coefficient, and other little tweaks, like BMW's "aero curtains."

5) coming back to construction techniques, cars have made some huge advancements over the years. look at lighting development, bumper construction (the removal of external crash beams and jutting out bumper "chins"), stamping and molding techniques, etc. it's not that cars have plateaued when it comes to assembly and construction, but they have become rather streamlined and efficient, so you won't see a shift in overall looks until some new type of material or construction method makes another break through. biggest example for the current era would be EV platforms; given that they're essentially a flat bed of batteries with some motors at the wheels, engineers and designers have a ton of liberty to design around that.

i personally think modern cars are much more varied than they've ever been in the past four-odd decades or so. aside from the examples you provided--which if you think about it, are from really conservative companies--we have tons of weird and cool shit to look at.
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      02-13-2015, 12:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kred View Post
Bring back Bangle
Quote:
Originally Posted by W/// View Post
I know right? First it was too radical, now it's too bland and boring. Make up your minds folks
his work is fantastic. i miss the Bangle era. it's what got me into modern car design and BMWs.
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      02-13-2015, 02:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pgviper View Post
Think about it, every car on the road can technically be used as free marketing.

So if you are working for BMW and you are head of marketing, the first thing you would do is make your entire line up somehow resemble each other this way each vehicle can then be used to market BMW every time somebody see's it.

I know plenty of people that confuse a 3, 5 and 5, 7 series on the road. Same goes for X3, X5 and X4, X6. To an untrained eye, they all look like what.... a BMW!!! And thats the point. Every vehicle in their lineup represents "BMW".
Totally, when I see a BMW, I know it's a BMW. Same goes with Audi, Porsche, etc, premium brands.

I think it began with Porsche... 911 is the regular frog. Boxster and Cayman are the slightly leaner frogs. Panameras are longer frogs, and Cayennes and Macans are differerent degrees of fat frogs.

It's the regular brand cars that I can't tell which brands they are when I see them... Is it a Toyota, or Honda, or Hyundai, or what?? Need to get closer to see.

Definitely creates brand recognition effects.
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      02-13-2015, 02:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billup View Post
Think back into the 80's for a moment. Camaro, Firebird, Trans-am.
Yeah...great example. Or how 'bout the Yukon and Suburban through the 90s until now...they look identical. The Silverado and Sierra are damn near identical too. No creativity, I swear.
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      02-13-2015, 02:56 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FC4 View Post
Yeah...great example. Or how 'bout the Yukon and Suburban through the 90s until now...they look identical. The Silverado and Sierra are damn near identical too. No creativity, I swear.
I just find it funny that people claim it's all cars NOW.


Seriously, open your eyes. Cars have followed similar suits since they day they rolled off the fucking production line! It's not like someone is going to break a trend that is working for the "times" with body lines and even the power plants for that matter. I'm pretty happy to see the cars on the road today and just how far everyone has come individually.
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      02-13-2015, 02:57 PM   #17
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Everything posted above is all valid but I think it's done to minimize costs. By standardizing everything (similar to what BMW is doing with their 5UP chassis), BMW has better control of costs. I'm sure manufacturing benefits from being more efficient because everything is the same vs. the Bangle BMW's where every panel and surface were different from one another.
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      02-13-2015, 02:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FC4 View Post
Yeah...great example. Or how 'bout the Yukon and Suburban through the 90s until now...they look identical. The Silverado and Sierra are damn near identical too. No creativity, I swear.
That is brand platform sharing and they've always been the same since go, by design. What we're talking about is the same brand having little style differentiation, aside from size, between models (Audi A4, A6, A8).
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      02-13-2015, 03:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfJericho View Post
That is brand platform sharing and they've always been the same since go, by design. What we're talking about is the same brand having little style differentiation, aside from size, between models (Audi A4, A6, A8).
Yes...I'm aware of this. Apparently the guy I quoted isn't.
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      02-13-2015, 03:25 PM   #20
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Yes...I'm aware of this. Apparently the guy I quoted isn't.
oops.
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      02-13-2015, 03:46 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfJericho View Post

The E46 (3er), E39 (5er), and E38 (7er) were quite disticnt in design yet instantly recognizable as BMWs. I think it comes down to lazy design.
It's funny you use those three cars as examples. That's when BMW viewed its design as too similar and, to paraphrase, just "three different sizes of the same type of sausage". That's what lead to the Chris Bangle era of heavy-handed design.

Point is, since the late 80s or so, car manufacturers have always tried to have the same design language permeate throughout their entire product lineup. To your point, sometimes the similarities are subtle, and sometimes they're applied with a heavy hand (or lazy, as you put it).
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      02-13-2015, 03:53 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBingoBalls View Post
Everything posted above is all valid but I think it's done to minimize costs. By standardizing everything (similar to what BMW is doing with their 5UP chassis), BMW has better control of costs. I'm sure manufacturing benefits from being more efficient because everything is the same vs. the Bangle BMW's where every panel and surface were different from one another.
Unless the panels are literally identical, I don't think that's true. Maybe you're referring to shared architecture and modular platforms (e.g. 5UP like you said and VAG's MQB)? Or things like switchgear and internals? If a body panel or styling element requires any kind of modification, just being "similar" won't be due to cost savings. It's due to recognition and intentional uniformity.
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