It seems that Ford’s officials have some curious concerns on their mind, as they think their prototypes are too easily spotted on public roads.
Automakers have always been trying to hide their upcoming new models – which must be tested on public roads – by heavily wrapping them under all kinds of patterned coatings, so that the shape of the cars stays hidden from prying eyes. Ford is not very happy that virtually everyone with a camera or smartphone can spy on their projects, so the company says it is now using some advanced camouflage technology to keep its secrets until it’s time to show them to the world. Ford believes the stake is particularly high for the Blue Oval. “While design is the fourth most important reason for purchase in the industry overall, it’s number two only behind fuel economy for Ford,” said Dave Fish, senior vice president, Expert Services at MaritzCX, which conducts the New Vehicle Customer Study. “It’s not surprising Ford goes to extraordinary lengths to try to keep the wraps on its designs as long as possible.”
Therefore, Ford gave up on using black vinyl on its prototypes, as now it is dressing the tests cars in vinyl stickers with patterns that trick the eye and hide body lines. The modern patterns create an optical illusion that makes it difficult to see details. “The work we’re doing is crucial to Ford staying competitive in a constantly evolving industry,” said John LaQue, Ford section supervisor, Prototype Planning and Build. “When we make it to a reveal without a photo surfacing of a non-camouflaged car, we have all done our jobs.” Each type of camo serves a purpose through various stages of development. Unlike vinyl cladding, vinyl stickers are universal, as they don’t have to be made specifically for each vehicle. Stickers are stuck on the car in no particular order, are quicker to install and more durable, plus they allow for more accurate testing as they don’t add as much weight. The stickers don’t trap heat, nor do they dramatically affect the aerodynamics of the vehicle, says Ford.
Another camouflage trick used by the automaker to mislead spies includes faux body panels that can drastically change the look of a car by adding length or height to keep the true dimensions of a vehicle under wraps.