Cars and Aesthetics – When Looks Beat Function

Cars and Aesthetics – When Looks Beat Function

For a long while cars have been a part of our lives in various ways. Their main purpose is clear – transportation. However, if we are to be honest with ourselves, when was the last time you bought a car just on transportation merits alone?

We have friends in the car shipping industry, and many of them tell us that most people rarely buy cars on a purely rational basis. This is not hard to believe, really. After all we are not rational creatures and utility is not the only thing we want in life.

That is why today we have decided to take a look at a topic that most people shy away from. We will see whether or not there is a more important factor than transportation merits when it comes to buying vehicles. Or in other words – are people buying cars to use them for transportation more so than for something else?

Reframing the Question

Let’s make our case clear from the get-go. We believe that one thing is certain – when you buy a new car you are doing it to drive it. So it is a bit pointless to say that there is something more important than that. Whatever other reasons you have to purchase a vehicle, its main goal is to take you from point A to point B.

However, we would argue that since every car meets that criterion by definition, it is not really where the question lies. Instead we should consider whether people would spend more on utility (such as better fuel efficiency, reliability, etc.) or rather on something else.

The Evolution of Car Design

If we look back, we will see that for the last few decades cars have not really improved that much performance-wise. We had 200+ HP engines back in the 70’s for example. The one thing that did evolve though? Aesthetics!

Sure, engines have become more efficient, and there are plenty of affordable cars with HP in the hundreds, but the most drastic change that we notice nowadays is always visual. Is this just coincidental though, or is there something more behind it?

We Are Drawn By Looks

Here is the thing – we are visual creatures. We subconsciously make snap judgments based on perception alone. You may not quite put your finger on what makes something look good, but you know an exceptional design when you see it. This is why there are not many cars such as the Fiat Multipla around – people just don’t tolerate ugliness in car design.

The model we mentioned is an excellent example of why we believe most people do not buy cars on utility merits. Think about it – the majority of time when you use your car, you won’t even be looking at it. You will be inside, driving it. And the Multipla is comfortable in that regard. It is also efficient and gets the job done excellently. Yet, you will spend more money to get something that is less efficient and less comfortable just because it looks better.

And here is where the truth lies – if you like how a car looks, you will find plenty of reasons to buy it. Sure, if you like two models you will decide between them on other merits as well, but if you like one much more than the other… Well, let’s say that you may not make the rational decision in the end.

Categories: Auto

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