Ford Motor Co. is taking a lighter approach to design with its GloCar concept, combining translucent, injection molded body panels and light-emitting diodes on an exterior that can change color and brightness, depending on a driver's whim and safety needs.
The GloCar is on display at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York through Jan. 25 as part of its National Design Triennial. The exhibit opened April 22. It also is set to appear in a future Los Angeles museum display.
First completed in 2002, the fuel-cell-powered GloCar was developed by Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford's brand imaging group. LED units placed throughout the translucent plastic body panels can allow drivers to change the car to any color but black, or make it more visible to pedestrians and other drivers.
``The rear panel doubles as a brake light and the side panels as blinkers,'' said Laurens van den Acker, chief designer with the Ford group. ``When somebody comes too close, the panels increase in intensity, signaling the driver to keep a distance.''
The lighting combined with injection molding also eases manufacturing techniques, since the panels do not require paint.
There are no plans to produce the GloCar, although it did provide a design exercise focusing on new techniques considering future needs for drivers.
``The GloCar projects an image of concern, safety, intelligence and lightness and takes the car from an aggressor to a protector,'' van den Acker said. ``Imagine hundreds of GloCars brightening up a city. It shows a future where cars become more intelligent and optimistic.''