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How and why test cars camouflage – Sectors – Economy


A few years ago, Jaguar Land Rover sued Jiangling Motor (JMC) in a court in Beijing for infringement of its intellectual property rights and unfair competition, accusing it of copying the design of its Range Rover Evoque.

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It was clear that the Chinese brand’s Landwind X7 was very similar to the Evoque and last year Land Rover won the lawsuit. This happened with a model like the Evoque that was already in circulation. For this reason, to avoid copies, is that the brands are so jealous with their new cars and resort to a tactic taken from the animal world where they camouflage themselves, either to hunt or to defend themselves from their enemies.

This practice is common in countries where new models are manufactured and there it is common to see cars in the testing phase on streets and highways covered by elements that hide their shapes and lines.

Statistics indicate that a brand spends on average four years and about $ 2.5 billion – or much more – and uses about 200 prototypes before a model hits the showcases. Keeping the secret is one of the biggest challenges.
Think about this. You are going to buy a late model car, for example 2020. That car was conceived in 2016, so the engineers and designers had to be ahead of time to deliver a device that, when it reaches your hands, will not look old or outdated. , but yes with all the technological advances of the moment. The secrets kept are many and valuable.

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Not to mention what happens in Formula 1, the best laboratory in the industry. To get a better idea, An engineer may be working on the design of a component for which he himself does not know what function it will fulfill.

Despite the very precise simulations in computers, real tests and validations of all kinds are required and are usually done at extreme temperatures of heat or cold. There are tests of resistance, of performance of a new engine or of aerodynamic behavior for which the test units must even move on foreign roads.

Hence, these prototypes must be camouflaged to prevent their competition from knowing details of design, dimensions or platforms, especially if the brand has worked on a model that it believes could become a ‘hit’ in the market. Also, It is proven that the majority of information ‘leaks’ occur during the testing phase.

Considering that those models will hit the shelves long after, another tactic is to show details that are not definitive. This strategy is known as crypsis (hiding) or mimesis (making it look like something else). Thus, when the moment of the launch arrives, the ‘target audience’ is prevented from losing interest in the ‘new model’ with which all work and effort is lost.

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The types of camouflage

In the development of a new model, different types of camouflages are used, and each one fulfills a specific function or objective and is changed at each stage of the process. A kind of vinyls are used, which are actually adhesives made of a material called Polystrong. There are several phases in which, for example, in Spain they are given very particular names.

The first is known as ‘Mule’ which takes place approximately three years before launch. In this, bodies of already known models are used and suspensions and engines of the future model are mounted. Thus they can be tested without attracting the attention of the competition or amateur or professional photographers.

The second phase is called ‘Bag of potatoes’ and it takes place between a year and a year and a half before launch. In this, the new model already has the body that could be the final one, but it is covered with large canvases that make it unrecognizable. They adhere to the bodywork with velcro, and can withstand temperatures between -40 and 70 degrees.

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The parts of the new model that the brand wants to hide more zealously are covered with a canvas and underneath they are injected with foam that camouflages the final look.
The third phase is known as ‘Vinilado’. It is the last of the tests and is in which the manufacturer checks with greater precision how the final model behaves one year before launch. At this stage, the tests of soundproofing, consumption or aerodynamics are carried out in which you have to go to the road and what it is about is not to attract much attention.

For this, the bodywork is covered with other vinyls that do not impact the performance of the vehicle, but do hide the real forms. There are some called ‘Fishies’, it is the oldest practice, today of very little use, but when they are required they are placed in a rhomboidal or geometric shape on the entire body in such a way that they deceive the real forms to avoid spy photos.

Others are known as ‘Tears’ that have that shape and are installed on a white bodywork. This is a very effective method because the lines of the bodywork are hidden, but above all, because they reflect the flashes of the strange cameras that always lurk.

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The latest trend in camouflage vinyls are the so-called ‘Flimmies’ or geometric ones that hide the true shapes of the body.

But it is only a part because just as new models are being developed every day, camouflage is also improving with new techniques.

These are for now the best known camouflage techniques but brands are working and striving more and more to keep their secrets well hidden from the eyes of their competition.

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