Why The Rise Of EVs Will Change Car Design Forever
The electrification of cars is flipping the automotive industry on its bumper. But while the infrastructure of charge stations and the effects on the environment are getting a lot of well-deserved attention, there’s one aspect of EVs that seemingly gets glossed over again and again: design.
Don’t get us wrong. The design of current electric vehicles are very much within the conversation, from supercars like the Pininfarina to the simple commuter sedans like Tesla. However, what we’re talking about here is the electric vehicle design of the future, and those previously listed vehicles, as cool as they may be, still look like most of their combustion engine ilk. Future vehicles, in contrast, might evolve into something completely different.
It’s a lot like evolution within biology. Changes will be slight in the beginning with most general consumer EVs looking the same way that cars have looked for almost a century, if a little sleeker with each new model. Then slight adaptations will be made with the market deciding which features stay and which features get weeded out, and eventually, the consumer’s perception of what a car can be will be entirely unique from where we started.
It’s akin to how Henry Ford designed the very first cars to look like horse carriages. It wasn’t because the horse carriage made for the ideal car chassis. It was because he wanted something familiar for customers to accept as being safe and reliable. But now that horse-drawn carriages are no longer the primary method of transportation, car design has been free to flourish and conform to its own needs rather than those of the past. Electric vehicles will evolve in much the same way.
“But wait just a minute,” you might be saying. “Why would an electric vehicle look different from a gas-powered one? Isn't it just a car designed to look like...well, a car?”
Not exactly. See the design of a regular combustion-powered car is more restrictive than you might realize and that’s because of the engine. Your typical 2.5 liter V4 combustion engine and the transmission attached to it alone can weigh close to 500 lbs. And that’s not counting the axels, the cooling system, and the various pumps and other equipment needed to make everything run smoothly.
Electric vehicles are currently designed around a model that accommodates the need to house an engine of which it doesn’t have. To oversimplify, in most electric cars each wheel has its own engine connected to a central power system. This makes the configuration of the cabin, wheel, and storage space all up for grabs in terms of design. And, thanks to our good friend Gordon Moore and his law, computers are also getting smaller, meaning that EVs have room to get even smaller too.
So, feel free to rub your palms together like a super villain whose plans are finally coming to fruition. We have quite the ride ahead of us.
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