COPEN’S DESIGN CONTRADICTION
On June 19th, Daihatsu launched the new Copen in the Japanese market. This is the second generation mini sport car of the company. Although it retains overall dimensions and electrically retractable roof, the new car is built on a completely new body structure. All of the outer panels except for doors and roof are made of plastic, and fit on the steel frame. Those plastic panels can be removed and changed into a different style.
At the launch Daihatsu offers only one body style called the Copen Robe, but a crossover-like styled version tentatively called X-Model will be added in autumn this year. In addition the third version is planned for next year. While the Robe and X-Model are not interchangeable because the door shapes are different, the Robe’s plastic panels can be fit on the third version and vice versa. The third version will use the same doors as the Robe.
This body structure was conceived and developed to offer different designs for different customer preferences with relatively low investment. But what is embarrassing to me is none of these three designs look attractive. In principle, design is to visualize the value connoted inside through shapes, colors and materials.
Each version of the new Copen shares the same frame, the same chassis and the same power train, and thus when you drive them, you feel the same value. Nevertheless, the appearances of them are different. This contradiction may be making me embarrassed, I suppose.