Why do electric cars look so different?
EVs are, in my opinion, a long-needed breakthrough in car design.
If you've been into cars for quite a while, you might have noticed a bit of stagnancy in terms of car design in general. Many vehicles from the same segment look so similar that if you were to swap badges on some of the models, I (and probably some of you) wouldn't even notice. Just like that clip from Top Gear, when James May jokingly mistakes Mitsubishi Outlander for a Volkswagen Tiguan (it's S20 E5 if you don't know what I'm on about).
However, there is a glimmer of hope. Electric cars, especially those built from scratch, on completely new platforms, bring a much needed breath of fresh air to car design. They often come in a vibrant colour, with an original but good-looking set of rims and a minimalistic interior. But why are electric cars so distinguishable from petrol-powered ones?
BMW i3 - there is no mistaking it for any other BMW. I personally like it
Because they can!
Electric cars look so different because they've given their designers a completely new set of possibilities and challenges. One of the biggest advantages of an EV over a conventional vehicle is its simplicity. Electric cars don't require advance cooling systems, complex exhausts with a lot of emission reduction techniques or even a propeller shaft, as you can put a motor directly next to a vehicle's wheel. As a result, they don't need so much space dedicated for powertrain components.
This means EVs don't need massive radiator grilles on a front. Designers have a lot more to say when it comes to proportions, as EVs don't require big engine compartments. They can have a flat floor in the back, without that irritating bulge in the middle, as they don't need to fit an exhaust system. Centre consoles can be tinier as well, giving way more space for passengers and storage compartments. But the differences aren't caused solely by technical stuff.
VW ID.3 - it's good-looking, it's quirky, I love it!
EVs are something new, something fresh. They are a huge change in car design and manufacturers want to show that. Making interiors out of environmentally sound materials, using a plethora of lively colours and changing the general styling is, in my opinion, supposed to appeal to younger generations of buyers. Even the use of large screens and smartphone-like controls in the interior instead of buttons attracts millennials rather than baby boomers.
However, leaving out old folks is a reasonable strategy when it comes to EVs, as more often than not they prefer conventional powertrains. Some manufacturers are willing to make such sacrifice, as this can help them survive in the future. Cars nowadays are blamed (somewhat deservedly) for global warming, which makes them unpopular in the eyes of many. To solve this issue, manufacturers are trying their best to change the image and public perception of automobiles. And EVs are just the best way to do it.
Porsche Taycan - more reserved in terms of design, it looks a lot like Panamera's more successful brother (probably thanks to those gorgeous headlights)
Not everyone is into that
However, that is just one way to go about it. Many manufacturers are much more reserved when it comes to the design of EVs. Porsche Taycan, apart from its headlights, is almost indistinguishable from a Panamera for an untrained eye. Jaguar I-Pace looks like a regular, petrol car, not a groundbreaking design with 62 (yes, 62!) international awards. Mercedes EQC has an outline of a radiator grill even though it doesn't have any holes in it and it doesn't technically need one.
But this just a different strategy. These manufacturers aren't trying to steal hearts of millennials with a revised, more eco-friendly design and cutting-edge technology. Instead, they are trying to show people that EVs aren't strange, that they are just like any other car, only better in almost every single aspect. And whilst such approach might have its advantages, I certainly prefer what VW has done with their ID.3 model.
This is because new conventional cars are a bit boring. They all look similar, have similar features and cost about the same. On the other hand, EVs built on all-new platforms are something fresh and innovative and their design should reflect that. There is a lot more room to experiment and develop, which is way more exciting than yet another conventional car created using a same recipe with little to no adjustments.
I hope you enjoyed this slightly subjective article. If you did, you can leave a like and read my other pieces. Till next time!