There was a golden age of car design that ran from the mid 1950s to early 1970s. Cars like the Jaguar e-type, Ferrari Dino, or Pontiac Firebird emerged; they were not only engineering miracles, but objets d'art.
During this time, the imagination of the auto industry was running wild, setting out ambitious visions of the future with futuristic experiments in form and function as radical as the Mercedes300 SL Gullwing to Bubble Cars.
But those days are long gone. For decades now the automotive industry has relegated the dreamers to the backrooms and allowed economists to take charge. Safely and efficiently packing a reliable fossil-fuelled mechanical engine and transmission into the small space of a car is no mean feat. Their priority has been to build cars from pre-existing platforms, killing or compromising brave design because its engineering implications are not affordable at the prices consumers will pay.
At the same time the car-buying public, so keen on personalisation in other ways, have seemed to express strange contentment with anonymous, boxy vehicles thus appearing to back up the economist's view.
As a consequence, the lustre of that golden age of auto is now but a dull tin, we're left with a rather stagnant industry in which even the biggest global players struggle to make money.
But the electric car presents an opportunity to change everything.
Global legislation, including the UK government's ban on the sale of new cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel from 2030, has sparked a chain reaction of major auto manufacturers to make commitments to an electric future. Just this week Volvo announced that it is to go fully electric by 2030, commitments echoed by Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and General Motors.
The industry is at a transformational moment and auto designers are presented with a rare opportunity to reimagine the very idea of a car and to create a new type of vehicle entirely.