Who rides so late through night and wind? It is the Father with his child; He probably has the boy in his arm, He holds him for sure, he keeps him warm
This is how the well-known ballad "Erlkönig" by Johann Wolfgang Goethe begins. Actually a very dark, ghostly and mysterious ballad. And it is precisely the mysterious thing that must have ensured that vehicle prototypes under trial are also called Erlkönige. After all, manufacturers are basically making a huge secret about new vehicle models. The problem that manufacturers have is that they cannot test prototypes permanently behind high walls and wire. At some point, the development status is so far that the prototype has to get out into real road traffic in order to be tested there. And, of course, customers and competitors should not learn about new shapes and designs too soon.
Camouflage and Deceit
To prevent this, the manufacturers camouflage their prototypes in the wild. And here is disguised what the stuff holds. For quite some time, new vehicles were basically armored. This is done with thick plastic plates, which were attached to the vehicle and thus were intended to obscure the shape. This is a great camouflage, but with considerable disadvantages. On the one hand, these parts have to be specially made, increase the weight and degrade the aerodynamics of the vehicle. In addition, the TÜV must take such changes. And it is precisely the changes in weight and aerodynamics that are no longer acceptable after a certain testing phase.
Foils to fake the shapes
The solution here are foils with special patterns that are glued to the vehicle. And when it comes to these asymetric patterns, each manufacturer basically uses its own. BMW, for example, uses a kind of swirl pattern. Thanks to this, it is hardly possible to see the actual shape of the vehicle, even with the naked eye. It is also very difficult to edit in photo such a vehicle in such a way that a "presentable" car comes out of it. Audi achieves with its version of camouflage, for example, that light edges seem to be where there are actually none. Opel simulates bulges where there is actually an area. Interestingly, there should even be customers who find such camouflages so cool and successful that they would like to have their vehicles in exactly this look. In the photo above, by the way, you can see an Erlkönig, who happened to meet me in a supermarket parking lot. Well, even an Erlkönig driver is hungry from time to time.