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Real Innovation Hidden Beneath the Ordinary

In 1907 the Parisian newspaper Le Matin threw a challenge on front page: “What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere.”

The car was born with the potential to provide the human freedom of mobility. To transform this potential into reality it was necessary for the new product become universal and available to everyone. In the early years it had to be feasible, inexpensive and useful. Then it should be developed providing the user things that fit with new ways of living.

In this “Hoy se habla de…” session we observe ten cars that brought great innovations from design, general conception of the object level or at the level of functionality particular solutions. We could all buy cars and in many cases may go unnoticed because they were so good they were integrated naturally into the lives of people who used them.

Itala 40hp: five teams responded to the challenge of “Le Matin”. The Italian Itala of Prince Scipione Borghese was the first to reach Paris after 60 days, showing that, indeed, if a man has a car can do whatever he wants, get anywhere.

Citroën 2CV: The briefing said several things clear. To put the car within the reach of everyone it should be very cheap … and to be able to carry a basket of eggs through any field without breaking any. Creativity and capacity of innovation to transfer knowledge from other fields were crucial.

Austin Se7en: The aim was to build a car around the smallest space in which four people can sit decently, to be lightweight and little consumes. Hence very small wheels and placed on the ends, suspensions reduced to a minimum, engine positioned transversely below gearbox…

Land Rover Series: The idea was just to re-start factories after the devastating World War II. It wasn´t even considered as a car but an ultra-simplistic kind of a tractor intended for agricultural use. Then in the real world was so appropriate that was only in 2016 when production came to an end. Its first slogan was “the Go anywhere vehicle”.

Fiat Panda: A compendium of product design and a proof that customers are always favourable to real innovation. Giugiaro went to essentials when projecting the Panda, in several fields: vehicle architecture, manufacturing processes, final customer everyday utilization. Nobody cared about it being handsome, yet still captured more than 5 million hearts in a career spanning 23 years.

Renault Scenic: Renault had relied on the van to bring into production the Espace concept in 1984, but the ultimate success came twelve years later when they applied that concept to the most popular car market segment, the compact. By raising the cabin a few centimeters allowed freedom from interference with mechanical parts and devote passengers a wider and more open space.

Mercedes Clase A: When Mercedes Benz decided to expand its range down were not afraid to risk. They questioned the conventional mechanical architecture anda managed to replicate the security and breadth of its older brothers. The engine tilted 45 degrees so it can slid under the floor protecting occupants in a crash is just one example of the genius of its conception.

Fiat Multipla: One of the most sensible car ever designed. Very comfortable, plenty of light and intelligently furnished room for six adults in two rows, plus luggage, in just 3,99 meters. User centered design at his best for a brand-new travelling experience.

Smart: Mercedes was on fire. Not having enough taking all the risk with the A-class they went also for an even more radical proposal. It shook the roots of urban mobility with a 2,5 meter car. It lived hard times when launched, but quality, safety and big doses of common sense would eventually conquer the market all over the world.

Renault Avantime: Renault had succeeded in applying the minivan concept in all market segments and decided to go for broke. If space is a luxury, it was an irrefutable idea of applying it in a high class car. Perhaps, as its name seems to announce, it was ahead of its time.

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