Wind pressure on an automobile is simulated by Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software. Red (on the nose of the automobile) indicates high pressures, while blue indicates low pressures.
Before a new car is built, it must be researched, designed, and developed into a workable product. Researchers analyze market trends, consumer surveys, and buying patterns to determine what consumers want, and then suggest what kinds of cars to make. Designers work to shape these new ideas into tangible parts or products. Engineers adapt existing parts for the new model and draw up new plans for the prototype. A prototype is a custom-built working example of a new design. Manufacturers begin by building a few prototypes before they set up a factory to build the new car. Product planners monitor the process along the way and make sure that an approved new car program finishes on time and within budget.
As technology advances, new cars continually feature new systems and innovations. Change and innovation in the auto industry take time to implement and must allow for, but not be overwhelmed by, consumer whims or government regulations. New systems are usually introduced one at a time, or new technologies applied to one area at a time. A new component system (such as a new braking system) in a fully developed prototype can take as long as four years to incorporate into a new model. Part of this time is needed to design, build, and install production tools to make the new model. Testing the new system on rough mock-ups (called test beds) and in preproduction vehicles to see what happens to overall performance takes additional time.
Before a new automobile design is built in large numbers, engineers first build a few full-size prototypes to ensure that the new design is safe. Prototypes are driven on special outdoor race tracks in order to inspect handling and performance at high speeds.
Meanwhile, members of the marketing and sales staffs select a name for the new product, conduct surveys to determine what share of the market the new model can anticipate, and troubleshoot potential problems. Initial production targets are set according to available market research results.
Once the board approves the model and name, the first working prototype emerges from experimental workshops. Board members try out the working prototype, then experts take it through extensive tests, including wind tunnel, dust tunnel, factory track, water-proofing bays, desert heat, arctic cold, and crash tests.