Hamish McRae: 'Who is going to come up with that dream car of tomorrow?'

The car companies desperately need a new big thing, something to get people back into the showrooms. Part of the problem is the global slow-down. You don't buy a new car if you think you might lose your job. But it is also the associated change in mood against fat-cattery: if you what to keep it, don't flaunt it.

Companies need to find ways to make their products fit the new mood. It is, I suggest, to be lean as well as elegant, responsible as well as fun. Of course, this is terribly difficult, particularly when you have to design products for a global market. But there are, perhaps, some rules of thumb. Here are five.

The first is that at a time of economic concern, people need to be cosseted. They need to be made to feel comfortable: physically comfortable, of course, and that means better heating and air-conditioning. These systems need to be quiet, unlike the air-conditioning in the new Mini. But cosseting is not just physical comfort: it is about creating a feeling of well being by design that mimics comfort in the home. In Britain, we seem to want wood and leather, but it is not hard to offer choice. Mercedes does it with its three trim levels; why not more?

Next, manufacturers should reflect on the sad fact that cars spend more and more time sitting in jams. The solution so far seems to be denial: cars are advertised swinging through the Highlands of Scotland or the hairpins of the top Corniche. It is absurd. Actually, the aim should be to create a car that feels comfortable in a jam, or at least safe and secure. People like four-wheel-drives not because they are safer but because they feel so.

Third, most of us want to be thought more socially responsible. To judge by the fact that Hollywood stars turn up to events in electric-petrol hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, this goes a long way up the wealth scale. But they are boring. There is a huge prize for the first manufacturer to make cars that are kind and fun.

Four, we value beauty. As many men have discovered, you can get away with being ugly if you are rich. But the cult of the ugly is receding; they are stopping making the world's ugliest vehicle, the Fiat Multipla, and the otherwise delightful Ford Ka has never sold as well as it should. It costs to design cars that are pretty because if you design lines that are satisfying you sacrifice interior space. But the boom in sports cars shows that many people are happy to make that sacrifice. The best sellers such as the Mazda MX5 or the Porsche Boxster are both lookers.

Finally, manufacturers should look at demography. The people with the money are the now middle-aged baby-boomers. But they don't want to be thought to be old: if anything, they want to go back to their youth.

The car manufacturers have already picked several style cons of the 1960s and 1970s and reinterpreted them for today: the VW Beetle, the new Mini, the Jaguar S-type, and in a slightly different way, the Lotus-inspired MX5 and the Boxster. The next trick is to reinterpret best-sellers that were not icons of the style of a generation ago but icons of stability and security.

For that is what the market needs to get moving: the excuse to buy something new. Companies make money by selling dreams, not by selling cars. So what are the dreams of tomorrow?

News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Proust as Captain Laure Berthaud in 'Spiral'
tvReview: Gritty, engaging and well-acted - it’s a wonder France’s biggest TV export isn’t broadcast on a more mainstream channel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Carmichael in still from Madam Bovary trailer
film
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links