From the AutoCult website:
In the automotive industry, prototypes are very important during the new vehicle development process. They can be design prototypes to test a new visual concept or engineering prototypes to test mechanical and electronic systems. Prior to production approval, prototypes are used for long-term durability testing, environmental testing, and component assembly. Shortly before series production begins, a final series of pre-production variants are assembled to use for media test drives, auto show debuts, and even "sneak peek" exposure to the media to attact attention to a new model.
Sleek design prototypes are created to explore new bodywork concepts. These beautiful vehicles set the stage for new production vehicles that will be built, but, rarely look just like the design prototype.
A very good example of the value of prototype vehicles can be found in the proeuction of the famous VW "Beetle". The idea to create in inexpensive "people's car" began in the early 1930's. Various companies were engaged to develop operating prototypes from Zundapp Werke in Nuremburg to the Steyr-Werke in Austria. The legendary air-cooled, rear-engined coupe attributed to Ferdinand Porsche took more than ten years to enter series production in the late 1940s.
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