This is why electric vehicle designs are so generic
Skateboards and top hats are the future of automobile design. The former refers to an electric vehicle’s flat, generally self-supporting chassis, which houses the suspension, brakes, and wheels, as well as a big battery pack in the middle and motors on each end. The top hat, which is automobile designer jargon for the body and interior of a vehicle, rests atop this.
The battery pack and motors housed in this skateboard chassis function in a near-universal fashion, regardless of whatever manufacturer the vehicle comes from, because they have considerably fewer moving parts than an internal combustion engine.
The system architecture’s voltage, as well as the battery size, regenerative braking intensity, and power output, may all be adjusted.
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These variables, however, pale in comparison to those of the internal combustion engine, which combine cylinder number and layout with bore, stroke, compression ratio, turbocharging, supercharging, and sound to create a far more varied way of turning four wheels. The variations between a powerful Mercedes-AMG V8, a revvy Honda four-cylinder, and a silky Bentley W12 are the consequence of this variety.
However, in the not-too-distant future, carmakers may purchase these electric skateboard chassis from a third party, similar to how Dell or HP obtain Intel chips and then affix their own body, or top hat.
So what happens when electric vehicles become mainstream?
Only if electric motor diversity explodes between now and then, creative new design and a fresh focus on brand identification via aesthetics, rather than drivetrain character, will take centre stage. Otherwise, carmakers that formerly relied on engineering excellence will no longer have this edge. Simply simply, the powertrain of a car will no longer be a major battleground.
Many of today’s first-generation electric vehicles have a pretty generic appearance. Most car designers are optimistic, though, that future versions would transition from a three- to a one-box design, with a cab-forward attitude that boosts internal space while reducing front overhang due to the lack of an engine.
Internal combustion and electric variations of the same platform are available in several automobiles, such as the Kia Niro, Opel Corsa, and Mini hatchback. Others, such as the unique Honda E and Hyundai Ioniq 5, aim to push design even farther by sticking out from the rest of their manufacturer’s lineup.
It might take time for things to change. Even when confronted with the existential threat posed by the impending ban on internal combustion engines, the car industry is a sluggish beast used to abrupt changes of course.
Some may design their own chassis and top hat, while others will see the ease and possible cost savings in purchasing a platform off the shelf from companies like REE Automotive and then fitting their own design-led bodywork. Others will lag behind, manufacturing cars that are neither unique in platform nor in design. The electrification race will not produce a winner for everyone.