How is a new car made?

Read about the fascinating process involved in designing a new car.

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Have you ever wondered how a car manufacturer creates a new car? The amount of work that goes into the lengthy styling and design process is startling.

Step one: Business case/marketing study

The whole process of creating a new car can start up to a decade before the vehicle ever turns a wheel, let alone before commencing any design work. The actual design and production process typically takes between three and four years.

A new car starts as a business case or marketing study. The manufacturer’s analysts will determine future car industry trends, including the kind of cars that buyers will look for. They will also develop projections for the type of vehicles that will suit a motorist in five to ten years' time. Employees conduct feasibility studies and surveys to collect buyer feedback.

With a firm idea of the kind of car buyers want, engineers can then determine whether the new model will run on an all-new platform or whether the underlying mechanical architecture and engines can be shared with sister car models or companies. The underpinnings and engine options enable engineers to flesh out some solid dimensions that designers will need to work around.

At some stage, the team will write a brief and pass this on to car stylists in the design studio. The brief outlines some general requirements and points to be aware of.

Step two: Sketching / Drawing

Next, a group of car designers will start sketching, putting concepts onto paper. Through continual refinement, individual elements will evolve or be ditched altogether. Eventually, the designers turn the drawings into a digital rendering with more detail. The designers will work on several different perspectives and a finalised car design may take up to 1,000 sketches.

After the concepts are finished, the team presents them to decision-makers and stakeholders in the company. They may have to pitch their design against their colleague’s work, explaining how they arrived at the particular solution and why it answers the brief the most effectively.

Step three: Packaging

Remember that pesky business of using pre-developed engines and subframes? This stage may now require the stylist to revise their design and make numerous compromises for the sake of economy or engineering. Lots of interdepartmental workshops and assemblies take place between engineers, technicians and designers.

Step four: 3D modelling

Nowadays, the car design process is heavily computerised. Using a 3D CAD modelling program, the modellers convert the 2D renderings into three-dimensional data. To do this, modellers need a front, side and rear perspective profile and possibly a top-down view. The design team works directly with the modeller as they translate a design into 3D. The industry standard software for this is Autodesk Alias which is used by carmakers like Tesla.

Once the 3D model is complete, it is again showcased to a group of stakeholders. Nowadays, car companies will often use a power wall to show off the concept. The wall works like a giant screen where the 3D model is enlarged to 1:1 scale.

Step five: Clay modelling

Once given the go-ahead, the design process moves to the clay modelling stage. A steel or wooden support buck, which has dummy axles and wheels, is covered in an industrial plasticine-like material. Then, the 3D model data can be passed to a robotic carving tool, which rough cuts the clay form. Next, sculptors will go in with clay working tools and improvised scrapers to refine and polish the clay into shape. The clay buck may be 1:4 scale or full-size.

Designers will work with the sculptors, often employing tape as a simple way to lay out a new line or communicate a styling alteration. One long-time Ford clay modeller said he’d often come back from lunch to find tape applied all over the ceramic form indicating changes to be made.

Finally, the sculpting team works toward creating a frozen model, which is painted to look like the finalised and completed car. They look so real that the marketing department can use shots of these models in promotional material. These frozen models weigh upwards of 5,000kg!

Step six: Interior design

While the exterior of the car comes to fruition, a team of interior specialists works on designing the cabin. They use a similar methodology to the exterior team. They may create a life-size rig of the interior for evaluation purposes. The interior design team considers hundreds of fabrics and materials before they choose a selection of interior designs.

On modern cars, everything centres on the infotainment screen. The interior designers also need to work on developing an ergonomic and practical passenger compartment.

Step seven: Colours

Even paint colours are a product of countless hours of work and experimentation. The inspiration for a colour scheme could be taken from architectural, fashion or product design trends. The team can go through up to one hundred different paint colour combinations and 1,000 litres of paint. Once complete, a buyer will have around a dozen different colours to choose from.

Step eight: Engineering finalised and production commences

The last step is to get the car signed off for assembly and production. The full-scale clay model will be shown to upper management. Several working prototypes will be built. If it becomes evident that a particular body crease or styling line is difficult to manufacture, it can be adjusted right up to the last minute.

Once given the ultimate sign-off, a car designer can sit back, relax and then start work on their next project. It is an intense and exhaustive journey, supported by a workforce of hundreds of specialists and professionals.

Want to buy a new car?

It is astonishing to learn of the effort that goes into developing a new vehicle. In addition to an attractive and updated exterior, new car models benefit from several advanced automated safety features that will protect you and your passengers. Most new cars also perform exceptionally well in stringent crash tests and deliver sensible emission levels and fuel economy. Ultimately, purchasing a new car could save you money. Compare car loans here to get the best possible deal.

Compare some options to finance a new car

$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Monthly Repayment View Details CTA
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From
2.99%
(fixed)
4.07%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 2.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.07% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 2.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.07% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
IMB New Car Loan
4.88%
(fixed)
5.23%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one that's up to two years old.
Plenti Car Loan
From
4.89%
(fixed)
5.44%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
Loans.com.au - New and Dealer Used Car Loan
From
4.67%
(fixed)
5.22%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.67% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment. Settle the loan before 30 November 2021 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.67% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment. Settle the loan before 30 November 2021 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From
3.85%
(fixed)
4.05%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.85% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $250,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 3.85% p.a. depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $250,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
NRMA New Car Loan
From
4.99%
(fixed)
5.69%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 3 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
MoneyForJam Car Loan
From
2.85%
(fixed)
4.85%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 2.85% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow between $4,500 and $120,000 with loan terms up to 7 years to finance a new or used car. Get access to more than 40 providers.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 2.85% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow between $4,500 and $120,000 with loan terms up to 7 years to finance a new or used car. Get access to more than 40 providers.
Heritage Bank Car Loan
4.89%
(fixed)
5.53%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Finance a new or used car up to 5 years old. Large maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000 and terms up to 7 years.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Finance a new or used car up to 5 years old. Large maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000 and terms up to 7 years.
NAB Personal Loan Unsecured Fixed
From
6.99%
(fixed)
7.91%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 7.91% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
Borrow from $5,000 to $55,000, with 1 to 7 year loan terms available. This loan comes with no fees for extra repayments and no early exit fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 7.91% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
Borrow from $5,000 to $55,000, with 1 to 7 year loan terms available. This loan comes with no fees for extra repayments and no early exit fees.
Symple Loans Personal Loan
From
5.75%
(variable)
6.47%
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.75% p.a. to 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow up to $50,000 to pay for what you need.
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 5.75% p.a. to 25.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Borrow up to $50,000 to pay for what you need.
Great Southern Bank Fixed Rate Car Loan
6.79%
(fixed)
7.16%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
SocietyOne Car Loan
From
5.95%
(fixed)
5.95%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.95% p.a. and 17.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.95% p.a. and 17.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
Wisr Secured Car Loan
From
4.74%
(fixed)
5.01%
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.74% p.a. to 16.01% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $63,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.

⭐Special Offer: Wisr's standard establishment fee $605 will be reduced to $195 for applications submitted through Finder. T&Cs apply.
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.74% p.a. to 16.01% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $63,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.

⭐Special Offer: Wisr's standard establishment fee $605 will be reduced to $195 for applications submitted through Finder. T&Cs apply.
OurMoneyMarket Car Loan
From
5.35%
(fixed)
5.65%
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 7 years.
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 7 years.
Latitude Personal Loan (Secured)
From
5.99%
(fixed)
7.26%
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.99% p.a. and 21.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Lock in a competitive fixed rate when you offer security. Loan can be used for any purpose and repayments are flexible. You can check your interest rate before applying with no impact to your credit score.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.99% p.a. and 21.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Lock in a competitive fixed rate when you offer security. Loan can be used for any purpose and repayments are flexible. You can check your interest rate before applying with no impact to your credit score.
NRMA Used Car Loan
From
6.24%
(fixed)
6.94%
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.24% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.24% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan
4.69%
(fixed)
5.01%
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Compare car insurance side-by-side and get quotes

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2021 Finder Award for Car Insurance - Value in QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA and Car Insurance - Features in NSW, VIC, WA, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct's claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% discount on first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Bingle Comprehensive
Market
Finder's summary:Bingle consistently comes up as one of the cheaper insurers out there. It only covers the basics. You don't get to choose your own repairer, you're not covered for personal items in the car and unless you add it as an option, you won't get a hire car if your car is stolen. But this keeps its premiums low.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a low-cost option that covers them for the basics.
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: With Coles comprehensive car insurance, you could earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. If your car is damaged, you could benefit from a one-week turnaround on repairs.

⭐ Current offer: Get 10% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
Virgin Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Finalists for the 2021 Finder Awards for Best Car Insurance - Value in VIC, QLD, SA, WA and TAS, Virgin Comprehensive provides a good level of cover for a decent price.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% off on your first year’s premium when you purchase a new eligible comprehensive car insurance online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to manage their policy online 24/7.
Australia Post Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Australia Post car insurance offers comprehensive cover for things like theft, fire, new for old replacement and emergency accommodation and transport. Cover also extends to anyone who uses your car, not just you.

⭐ Current offer: Get $75 off your first year’s premium when you buy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: If multiple people use the one car and you don’t want to worry about listing all drivers.
Stella Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed
Finder's summary: Stella’s a female-focused insurer. It'll cover you if your car is damaged as a result of domestic violence. It offers higher cover for baby gear than most, with up to $2,000 cover for prams, strollers and child seats.

⭐ Current offer: Save 10% when you pay your premium annually. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a female-centred car insurance policy (it will cover men too).
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be with optional extras like choice of repairer and the option of agreed or market value.

⭐ Current offer: Earn Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium. Sign up today and earn up to 20,000 Qantas Points (points awarded will be based on your premium). T&Cs and eligibility apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to earn Qantas Points.
ahm Comprehensive
Optional
Both
Finder's summary: ahm comprehensive car insurance lets you choose higher excess to reduce your premiums. Its Fixed Kilometre Plan can save you up to 30% compared to its standard comprehensive cover.

⭐ Current offer: Get 12 months free roadside assistance when you purchase a new policy online.^ Offer ends October 14. T&C’s apply.

Who it might be good for: People who drive less than 15,000 km per year.
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Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for IMB New Car Loan
IMB New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.

Logo for Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.

Logo for RACV New Car Loans
RACV New Car Loans

You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.

Logo for NRMA New Car Loan
NRMA New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.

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