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Fiat wants you to design their next car

August 26, 2009

I was reading this article in Adage last week, and at first I thought they were recapping the Simpson’s episode where Homer tries to build a car for everyone.

In Brazil, Fiat is inviting consumers to submit ideas that they will integrate into their concept car for Sao Paolo’s auto show. And I can see it now. The Pimp My Ride special, by Fiat. Kid neutralizing partition for the parents, soda dispenser for the kids, and anything else your heart desires.

But, in today’s world of user-generated content, micro-blogging and consumer tastes shifting with the speed of Usain Bolt, open-source auto design is a good idea.

Fiat is betting that consumers know what they want in a vehicle. It’s a welcome addition. If this car ever goes into production, Fiat will have a unique niche in the marketing battle to position cars. This is the car for you, by you. That’s a powerful statement, in a world where the last major innovation in car design was the internal combustion engine… (I’m kidding, but seriously, would it kill car companies to try a little?)

The most intriguing part of this experiment is that the website and the content submission will be used to generate branding and marketing concepts for the car. Which seems crazy, until you realize that with every tweet, facebook update, etc., consumers are rebranding your car anyway.

Every person who submits a picture on facebook with their Fiat is giving the car a bit of their personality. If they’re cool, Fiat gets bonus points. If they’re not… A brand eventually becomes what its end-users want. Look into the back-story of Hamburger Helper if you don’t believe me. In essence, Fiat is just skipping the middle-man.

Good for the consumer. Not for the middleman. But will it be good for Fiat?

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