Cost of Concept car

Does anyone know the cost of developing a non-practical concept car? I mean not like BMW Gina that probably required lots of R&D but just clay models?

Depends on the stage of development:

  1. Exterior only
  2. Exterior and interior
  3. Operational

Also, what scale? You can do a 1/4 or 1/3 scale. Also, you can do just one half and place a mirror where the centre of the car would be. I’ve seen concepts where there were two halves that had different details too.

Also, it depends on your team. Do you want to know the cost of enough clay or the cost of the team?

ask these guys:

or these guys:

(Scale 1:64 :laughing: )

Most concept cars shown to the public are full up autos, some drivable some not. With the advent of HUGE multi axis CNC machines and carbon fiber the cost has actually dropped a bit. If you were to do a full size car in clay full scale, figure $1,000 for the wooden buck, 2-3k bucks for the clay, and months of your time. To make that a real body, mold will set you back 10k materials, and weeks of labor with the final body in carbon at 20-40k (including building your own oven). That’s about as cheap as I know how to do it, 50k and 1/2 a year.

There’s cheaper ways to do it (minus the labor) without traditional molds. You shape the foam and lay the fiberglass directly on it as the body itself. Look into kit cars and such (tri-magnum has a good how-to instructions you can buy), there’s a few books on how-to’s and people have done it for under $10k for a fully working one-off car. But the original question is for clay model…

Very true, and its a HUGE, MASSIVE amount of work :open_mouth:

Very true, and its a HUGE, MASSIVE amount of work

That’s not quite accurate information zip.

Starting from foam, glassing and sanding, and bondo-ing, and sanding is a HUGE, MASSIVE amount of work . :wink:

.Not to mention regardless of how “smart” you work, you’re inevitably going end up covering the shop, yourself, and everything you own at home with fiberglass dust. And don’t use your own washing machine to do your work clothes.

It also depends on the quality and time. My previous job at shook design, the boss designed a concept car that he wants to build. It has taken quite a time for him, as he worked on it whenever he gets time. I believe more than an year for him to foam core, blue foam, clay, make molds and make parts in fiberglass. I worked on fixing the fiberglass surfaces, thats a great deal of work. Mostly, he worked by himself, and some help from interns and trans students. SO I believe he spent lot of time in making and surfacing the body, but spent rather less on money. Expenditure is mostly materials and very less on man power. I dont know the exact figure of money. Here is his old blog showing the making.-

way cool, nice bit of custom car building. Now imagine it old school where you used aluminum hammered over a stump no fiberglass in the 50’s.

I am completely ballparking here, but I would say at a manufacturer of automobiles, with a team of professionals. The cost for a 1:1 clay concept would be between 150K and 250K USD and upwards depending on interior, etc. Team design leader of group, connection with the engineering, sketching, 1/4 scale models, team of clay modelers, digitizing the completed half, surfacing, machining the mirror side on a Tarus machine. Rework, redesign, repeat until perfect. Presentation and transportation to car shows and photo shoots.

Yo’s Metalcrafters is a good link, I saw a video about them create two 100% working prototypes for GM back in the 90’s, they were rolling the body panels by hand against templates. They still are listing the capability for old world metal bumping on their website. There is still no other way to make a thin panel of steel or aluminum without tooling.

The cost of one of those working prototypes was about 600K in today’s dollars.

he spent lot of time in making and surfacing the body, but spent rather less on money. Expenditure is mostly materials and very less on man power.

Time is money… “material” just lays there until someone picks it up and does something with it. Typically that person(s) is paid a salary, or by the hour.

Mostly, he worked by himself, > and some help from interns and trans students> .

aka: slave labor… . ahhh, excuse me, enthusiastic assistance…

Shaw, I want to buy the rights to use your No Facebook/No twitter image. … . love it.

These days you can bypass the clay model and have a full-size car CNC’ed out of foam. Big car companies prefer clay models because they can afford it and that’s how they’ve done it traditionally. Chavant clay is a pain to deal with, you need a controlled environment; stable room temperature and minimum dust (it can contaminate to clay). And of course you need a bridge to make sure it’s symmetric.

Keep in mind though that what you see on the screen may look/feel different in full scale, so there may be surprises when you go from a CAD surface model to a full-size model, but then again that’s true with almost any i.d. project.

A full-size CNC’ed foam model will cost you about 20K.

Thanks everyone for so much information.

However OOOOppps, I somehow forgot to write what I was thinking at the question. But sure this information would be useful for some people searching the web.

I was going to ask exactly “Does anyone know the cost of developing a non-practical concept car for a big automobile company” I mean how much do they spend for one concept.

Fortunately nxakt answered my question, probably by reading my brain :smiley:. Thank you very much nxakt.

The reason I asked this question is, I have developed a novel method for producing a CFRP body in white. (I am a materials engineer by the way) but I don’t have enough funds to devlope it further. I belive the method can change the way CFRP cars (and most other stuff) are produced completely. So I was thinking, if auto companies can give the money they spend for one concept car to us, can we develope our method to near completion. And the result wold be a terrific concept car in itself! Looking at the numbers given by nxakt, yes we can nearly get the production method close to completion.
So I am more encouraged now to contact some big automobile companies to offer this. I hope I can get their attention. All I need is now some leads to somepeople that will be intersted.

Good luck, but remember the bigger the company the more entrenched processes are. As was pointed out the reason that clay is still used is because it “plastic” you can chop it off, slather it on all at the whims of “c” level folk or the marketing herd.

ProDesign, The majority of the cost is still in developing the form. The 2D designers are not sure what many aspects of the final 3D form will be like, and lots of explorations are done in the clay. Right and left sides are often modeled differently to explore variations. The part of the process that you seem to be indicating would start once the final form is arrived at and the carbon fiber skin is required. That should be of interest to automobile companies.

Clay is additive and subtractive and can easily be changed to explore a form. Seriously, once you have worked in clay and CAD, you will appreciate that certain discoveries and styling directions can only be achieved working hand to model in the real world. I use a Japanese variant of Chavant style clay for building helmet models, bike, skate, snow, before digitizing and rebuilding in CAD. There is no need for temperature or dust control, symmetry is done in CAD from the selected side.

Thanks Lew, the words “follow me on Twitter” are a deep embarrassment to our time. I hereby put it in the public domain, use as you like. Stick this code in your signature to have it display.


“follow me on Twitter” are a deep embarrassment to our time.

Kindred spirits… …

and profitable for some, for a certain female cleb its 25k for a tweet having her recommend or mention your product.

and profitable for some, for a certain female cleb

Yeah, and a $430,000 out-of-court embarrassment/settlement for one who couldn’t keep her collective I’m-a-celebrity sh*t together…

By the way, thanks Shaw. :wink: