In the realm of automotive design, the last century’s styles were largely dictated by the constraints of traditional drivetrains—engines, transmissions, and rear axles. These components dictated vehicle shapes, necessitating larger hoods for front engines and tunnels for drive shafts. However, electric vehicles bring about a fundamental shift. With smaller motors located between the wheels and no central drive shaft, designers are liberated from conforming to these structural necessities.
The Blank Canvas of Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles present a unique opportunity for designers—a blank canvas. Unlike traditional cars, they don’t adhere to the structural limitations imposed by bulky mechanical parts. The primary consideration, the battery, is relatively thin and can be strategically placed, usually on the floor, without obstructing the vehicle’s design possibilities.
Evolutionary Changes in the Industry
As the curtains rise on the era of electric vehicles, significant changes are imminent. Their mechanical components differ vastly from conventional engines, eliminating the need for components like the drive shaft and tunnel and consequently altering the placement of rear seats. Automakers face a crucial decision between maintaining two vehicle categories or focusing solely on electric vehicles for the future.
The Future of Design
The shift toward electric vehicles implies a distinct trajectory for automotive design. Conventional gasoline vehicles might persist for a limited time—perhaps five to ten years—with minor upgrades to existing models. However, significant investments in new designs for vehicles bound for extinction within a decade seem financially unwise.
Designing for Efficiency and Style
Electric vehicle design emphasizes efficiency and a departure from traditional styling norms. The absence of a need for cooling grills or front-end air intakes allows for a reimagining of vehicle exteriors. The focus shifts to usability and aesthetics—creating vehicles that not only look appealing but also redefine interior layouts and seating arrangements without the constraints of accommodating an engine.
Unrestricted Creativity in Design
The freedom in electric vehicle design is unparalleled. The cabin space and outward shell are wide-open territories for designers, allowing for innovative designs that cater to buyer preferences and usability without the confines of building around an internal combustion engine.