You may remember us raving over Citroen's C-Cactus concept from Frankfurt 2007, some time ago. It wasn't just the design we liked though. Parts reduction, light-weight tech and pared, basic simplicity-of-thought got us fired up too. But it was the fact that Citroen said they were actually going to production-ise the thing that really got us excited.
After the marketing-led disappointment that is the DS sub-line (at least in its initial, DS3 form), the production Cactus was what we holding out for from Citroen.
While we weren't expecting the Cactus to make it to market in unfettered form, we'd hoped the principals and ideas behind the concept would win through. However, a report in autocar this week suggests that some of the pared back simplicity of the concept vehicle will now be junked in favour of more kit, and greater complexity for the production version - because the stripped concept was "too radical" for customer tastes:
"The Citroen C-Cactus concept car will reach production in a different form, after customer clinics questioned the car’s back-to-basics interior.
Research has uncovered aspects of the car that potential buyers were not happy with. The lack of dashboard and the way its instruments are clustered around the steering column were said to be particularly off-putting.
Citroen is also considering fitting electric windows instead of the concept’s wind-up units, which reduce complexity."
I wonder when car makers are going to give up on these types of customer clinics, which only ever seem to produce 'negative' responses resulting in radical design and ideas rejected in favour of conservatism? At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, to quote Henry Ford: "If I'd have asked people what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse"...
Understanding the customer's needs, aspirations and desires is a critical part of launching a successful product, but if the car industry really wants to inovate; to move beyond the current mess it's still in, then can we politely suggest that they ditch clinicing like this? BMW, Ford and others claim to have. So why are the original innovators - Citroen - still at it?
Posted by Joseph Simpson on 4th February 2010