PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — When Infiniti offered a sneak peek of its next-generation M sedan during the Concours d'Elegance here in mid-August, it was a magic-lantern show that conjured a nonexistent M.
Five synchronized projectors threw images generated by computer data onto a life-sized block of foam. The foam was transformed into a detailed M sedan, racing along a highway on illusory wheels that seemed to spin.
But it was no mere light show. It was an invention of necessity in an industry that is making it harder and harder to see and touch early versions of new cars.
"We didn't have a car to show anybody," says Jon Brancheau, director of Infiniti global marketing communications, who dreamed up the sneak computer-aided-design projection. "It used to be that we could show a prototype of what's coming. But there aren't any M prototypes."