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So, every once in a while I will see an article on MSNBC Auto's about a to-be-released car, like this one. As you can see, the pictured car is just plastered with what appears to be some sort of fabric covering that looks like a car bra on steroids. I was just curious why this is such a common practice. I could maybe see it being to protect the paint, except that honestly that seems like overkill.

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It's the car variant of dazzle camouflage, and it's used to disguise the appearance of the vehicle. The coverings on the grill and lights are also to disguise the appearance. This is done to avoid revealing a design change before it's officially revealed to the public. Protecting the paint is definitely not the intended use here.

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    +1 It's used to disguise the appearance as well as make/model. Many makes these days have signature looks across their range of vehicles (BMW double kidney grill, Lexus angular grill, Porsche 4-LED headlights, Audi LED strip running lights, Acura smiley face grill etc). Covering these well known and distinguishable features, as well as any future design features, prevents onlookers from immediately determining the make or model of the vehicle before the big unveiling at whatever major auto show. – MooseLucifer Sep 14 '16 at 20:52

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