No, the transition towards electric cars isn’t happy times
But yes, we’re in the middle of the automotive golden age
By now, most of the people who use and own a car more as a tool for journeys such as going to work, the shops, and to who the most important criteria are user-friendliness and reliability are reaching the following conclusion: Going electric is mostly beneficial to them and their needs. They’re silent and cancel most of the vibrations you get with petrol-powered cars. There’s more interior space because of fewer mechanical parts eating into the cabin, and the instant power they provide is more than a gimmick; it’s useful. Once again, because an electric car only has one moving part — the motor — the chances of getting into any mechanical trouble are mostly non-existent. And of course, you don’t drive around polluting cities and the nature you encounter.
All in all, if you recognize yourself as one of the people I’ve described above, look no further than electric cars.
If you don’t though, you’ll probably agree that cars without their engine sounds, the vibrations when changing gear, and the feeling of dozens of mechanical parts powering you through cities doesn't cover even half the driving pleasure. For that reason which is the lack of… anything that happens when you put your foot down, electric cars aren’t as enjoyable or engaging to drive. On top of that, brands announcing their internal combustion cars will die altogether in a few years doesn’t help.
Yes, it’s sad and frustrating. But here’s the thing, the transition to electric cars is also responsible for providing the most interesting automotive background we’ve had in decades.
Since the oil crisis in 1973 when car manufacturers had to reconsider the cars they were building and make them more fuel-efficient, the vehicles we see every day have all been built basically the same way: they have to make sense. Too long or too wide is a waste of space, too big of an engine isn’t useful anymore and if it uses up too much fuel, people won’t buy them.
I’m of course putting supercars to the side for now. Since 1973 then, we’ve said goodbye to extravagant cars with five-foot-long bodywork though they only seat two people, and massive eight-liter engines simply because these aren’t right anymore. And that is a shame, but the world has to move on.
Today, after 48 years of cars built that way, manufacturers have to change their habits once again. I’m not denying the evolution of technology, the new body styles, and the new crave that have appeared in the last decades but right now, in 2021, things are changing big time. Having to produce more aerodynamic cars and being able to give them a sheer load more power because of how tiny an electric motor is, that’s one thing. But it’s just the start.
The visual challenges
With electric cars comes a whole new design language a lot of brands have started to come up with. They’re starting over in terms of esthetics and interiors, not just rebadging their petrol-powered cars with an ecological name but making them stand out from the crowd and their own products.
Take Volkswagen for instance: From a brand that spends so little imagination on sketching new models that they all end up looking the same, electrification is the opportunity for them to surprise the public and themselves. The ID.3 and ID.4 are two new electric cars the German company is just starting to build.
They have sleeker looks, new proportions, new light graphics, and inside, the screens and buttons are laid out in a fresh new way. Of course, Volkswagen could have gone with the option of simply fitting an electric motor in one of their internal combustion engine cars and keep the same looks.
Doing this, however, would have made their cars fall behind the competition as many are also coming up with their own all-new design language.
Hyundai has the most striking visual departure so far with a brave new way of designing their cars. For the first electric vehicle of the Ioniq lineup, they’ve put their imagination to the test and created this, also know as the Ioniq 5:
It’s all about pixels and square proportions when it comes to looks, and the following models promise to keep this atypical style going. This makes the Ioniq 5 one of the most distinguishable cars on the road today, bringing more people to have a thorough look around it in the streets, before having the same kind of look in the showrooms. Electric cars are less fussy about the way they have to be styled: the lack of any engine up front, for instance, translates into more flexibility when it comes to designing the front of an EV.
Having car makers completely reimagine their design language all at the same period of time is fantastic and makes the era we live in, fascinating. When you hear about a new electric Mercedes, Volvo, Kia, Toyota or so many more, you know you’ll be in for a surprise right from the first glance.
And new cars haven’t been quite like that for a very long time. But that’s not all…
The challenge of making them fun
Let’s cut right to the chase, the sound of an engine coupled to the vibrations it creates is an important part of the driving pleasure for a car enthusiast. Now yes, cars will soon come with fake engine sounds sent through the speakers, and in fact, it’s already becoming a reality in some Porsches for instance. But the effortless power delivery and the non-existent gear changes won’t fool anyone who enjoys such a driving experience. That’s especially a problem for sports cars and supercars which need these elements to be as fun as can be, and yet there’s no denying they’ll also turn electric in the years to come.
So how will car manufacturers attract an audience that’s interested in fun petrol cars when they’re powered by electricity and store heavy batteries? Will looks and technology be enough to convince these buyers? What invention will brands come up with in order to compensate for the lack of noise?
This is what I’m on about: The constant sense of “I wonder what’s just around the corner” and “Are we on the verge of a revolutionary automotive trend?”
We are in the middle of a fascinating era where big decisions are made every day and have the potential to have a grand effect on our lives, and the automotive world is no different. In years and decades, we will look back at these times we currently live in and think: “They had no idea what was about to strike them” or “I wish I would have made the most of it”, “ I wish I would have known”.
Rejoice, car enthusiasts, the automotive industry is at its golden age, so stop feeling sorry for yourself and make the most of it. Thanks for reading.