For Car Designers, E.V.s Offer a Blank Canvas

(repost from NYT, avoids paywall)

I think Lichte says the right things, I just can’t stand his work.

"“The styling of I.C.E. cars took inspiration from predators. Holes were needed for breathing; cars became ever more aggressive,” he said. “They were so aggressive they became comic characters. To apply that language and philosophy to electric cars would not make sense at all.”

They say this… and yet the leadoff image is a typical haunched silver-fox waste of materials and real estate.

Reminds me of Karim Rashid in ”Objectified” 10+ years ago, going off on a self-righteous rant about archetypes of digital cameras:

“Why do we feel like we need to keep revisiting the archetype over and over and over again? Digital cameras for example. Their format, their proportion, the fact that they’re a horizontal rectangle, are modeled off the original silver film camera. So in turn, it’s the film that defined the shape of the camera. All of a sudden our digital cameras have no film. So why on earth do we have the same shape we have?”

2022, cameras* still have that same shape. Perhaps it wasn’ only the film that defined the shape? Perhaps conclussions can be drawn and applied to EVs?

*Some may be tempted to point out smart phones. Yes, they have replaced many consumer cameras, but have not changed the camera archetype as we know it.

Didn’t I (and others on the boards) say the same thing a year and a half ago?

I was just looking at my camera. So much of the design is driven by the lens, which hasn’t really changed in centuries and a place to put your hands. If you want that to be in a small package, the 35mm style design is ideal.

The vernacular of acceptability in objects has its own pace, and cultural conformity will outweigh desires for radical novelty.

Premium EVs like that Audi concept just seem so hypocritical to me. As if the design principles are, if given freedom from ICE packaging constraints, to squander it in new and ridiculous ways, instead of trying to innovate for lower overall material impacts.

Yikes… that Audi concept. Could it be any less German? Or at least any less Bauhaus I suppose, which is serrate from being German. I think the Canoo is the closest that ideal we have seen so far. No need for the lumps and bumps of an ICE platform, jut all people space.

The long hood of the Audi concept misses the point entirely.

There are now sooooooo many options on the layout of the car and they all have huge influence on the shape, dynamics, performance, crash, etc.
For example, you get the classic slab battery under the floor. That stack raises the occupants which is why they tend to be SUV’s
Lotus have done something different, they have a vertical stack of batteries behind the seats, this gives them the low seating and the weight distribution like a mid engine ICE car.
Then there are motors, rear, mid, front mount, even hub mounted motors.
Motors and batteries are heavy lumps, where you place them has impacts on the weight distribution.
so many ways of laying out a car now.

Then comes the next giant change the automotive industry is going through, ADAS.
Not only is the powertrain package changing, but how the occupants use the interior while the car is driving (level 4)
Who knows? we can make assumptions based on the passengers of non ADAS cars, but now, the occupants will potentially have more interaction with each other, so how do you want to sit? do you want the seats to rotate for face to face conversation? that have HUGE impacts on the interior space, which will then knock onto the exterior.

By the time we all figure it out, we will probably not be buying cars and will instead be using self driving pods.

I’d like to make an EV sportscar with a t-shaped battery (like a Volt). The Lotus Esprit used to have a giant centre console, the battery could be placed there. That would keep the seats low and the weight in the middle.