DEARBORN, April 24 – Ford is taking the art of color to a more intense level with a new concept car that uses LED lights to change body panel colors, intensity and frequency, all in the name of safety and user preferences.
As part of “National Design Triennial: Inside Design Now,” a cutting-edge exhibit now on display at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Ford’s Brand Imaging Group will display the GloCar, a revolutionary translucent concept vehicle intended to push the boundaries of automotive design and predict the future of consumer needs.
Nearly 100 years ago, Henry Ford let his color preference be known with a legendary quote: “You can have any color as long as it’s black.” Launched in the spring of 2002, GloCar challenges the icon by being any color except black. Clad in injection-molded translucent plastic panels, it uses LED lights to change the body panel color, intensity and frequency in response to safety conditions and user preferences. The driver can either stand out or blend in.
The customizable GloCar was designed to be safe, fun and evoke emotion. “The soft glowing panels serve as a safety feature to make you very visible at night,” said Laurens van den Acker, chief designer at Ford’s Brand Imaging Group. “The rear panel doubles as a brake light, and the side panels as blinkers. When somebody comes too close, the panels increase in intensity, signaling the driver to keep a distance.”
The only automobile on display at the exhibit, the GloCar is built around a lightweight aluminum space frame with aluminum extrusions and castings. It is powered by fuel cell technology.
GloCar came about after extensive socio-cultural and technological trend research. The research determined five scenarios of the future: the unfolding universe, the mosaic society, the experiential society, the sustainable society and the caring society. “These scenarios were used to anticipate future consumer needs and provide solutions for new challenges the automotive industry might face,” said van den Acker. “The intended user is always the end user – the customer.”
Based on the scenarios, designers explored possible trends. Among the most important were safety and sustainability. Sixty percent of accidents happen at intersections at night. ‘Being seen’ is key in avoiding this. The GloCar allows you to be seen from all angles, not just headlights and taillights. In addition, the GloCar can potentially eliminate the need for vehicle paint, thus eliminating waste as well as reducing complexity at the manufacturer by making only one version of the vehicle.
The ecological and bottom line benefits might be obvious, but the positive social impact of the GloCar is also important. “The GloCar projects an image of concern, safety, intelligence and lightness and takes the car from an aggressor to a protector,” said van den Acker. “Imagine hundreds of GloCars, brightening up a city. It shows a future where cars become more intelligent and optimistic.”
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
The “National Design Triennial,” a series of exhibitions exploring contemporary design in the United States, was inaugurated in 2000 by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, to study and celebrate the technological innovations, artistic evolution and cultural impact of design.
The work of 80 designers and firms will be on view in an exhibit containing more than 300 objects, models, photographs, films and renderings. The second annual event is subtitled “Inside Design Now,” on view through January 25, 2004.
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