Nearly all new cars and trucks are developed in secret, hidden from the scrutiny of the public and the competitive eyes of the other manufacturers. Tossing all of that nonsense aside, Fiat has started a Brazilian website with the intent of designing what it says will be the world's first "consumer-generated" concept car. Visitors to the site are encouraged to make suggestions about any component -- including powerplant, materials, and the all-important infotainment center. "We're inviting Brazilian consumers to invent the concept car that Fiat will exhibit in the Salao do Automovel, Sao Paulo's auto show, in October 2010," Abel Reis, the head of agency running the program told Advertising Age.

The site is designed like any familiar social-networking site, with comments, pictures, and feeds from Twitter. Subcategories help organize the content, and readers may vote for their favorite suggestions. While the site is written in Portuguese (Brazil is Fiat's largest market outside of Italy), a simple click translates each post into five different languages, expanding the programs reach.

Since the program started the first week in August, 67,000 visitors have submitted 1,700 ideas. Next month, Fiat will release more refined information about the vehicle based on its collected input. Readers will then be encouraged to get more technical with their questions. Several months before the official unveiling, the automaker will turn the topic towards marketing and branding, thus completing the design program.

[Source: Advertising Age]