According to Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of Polestar, the Volvo Cars performance brand, based in Gothenburg, Sweden, electrification in the auto industry is creating unprecedented competition and radically changing how cars are designed.
Automakers have traditionally followed certain design guidelines. Now, however, the rise of electric vehicles is upending the standard layout of cars. Without the existence of an internal combustion engine and a fuel tank, new design possibilities are now available. Given that most standard vehicles place the engine under the front hood and a fuel tank below the car, there is little room for innovation.
Electric vehicles, though, are not limited to those constraints and can store batteries and motors differently. Ingenlath says that “automakers must introduce revolutionary cars, not evolutionary cars.”
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The Polestar 1 contains a lot of carbon fibre. Possessed of its own unique characteristics, carbon fibre needs to be handled and assembled in certain ways. From the meticulous application of glue, to the specialised jigs used for assembly, the carbon fibre body of the Polestar 1 is realised. #PoelstarCars #Polestar1
Given that automakers have had a tendency to make electric cars "look like an EV," the results have often been less than attractive. Yet recently, new brands have introduced new design concepts for EVs, as well as classic car designs for electric models.
New designs are more aerodynamic and futuristic since EVs need less front air intake and have no use for a front grill. Therefore, the designs can also be more efficient, resulting in fewer SUVs and more crossovers, sedans, and fastbacks.
Inside, there is a great demand for connectivity, and screen and voice control can be expanded since the gauges needed to monitor a gasoline engine are redundant. Nowadays, cars are often sold based on a driver’s demand for engine size, cylinder count or transmission type. With electric motors, power is a service rather than a vital product feature.
Externally, most cars have to adhere to governmental crash standards, general vehicle legislation, and other laws, yet there is still great potential for design. In the case of the Polestar 2, the company took “a building-block approach” and arranged the batteries on top of each other, leaving more legroom in the backseat, while the batteries are housed where the transmission tunnel would be.
Since electric vehicles space require less product planning as the inner workings are fairly straightforward, EV companies can spend more time focusing on product design and manufacturing. Currently, China's auto companies work quickly with short-term planning, allowing for greater innovation.
Ingenlath believes that “long-established car companies will need to learn to adapt and develop products faster than they currently are in order to keep up. The electric revolution is here, and the possibilities for new automotive design are many. Let's make this the remarkable new era in car design it deserves to be.”