It took them a long time for the designers to respond. To take advantage of the opportunity that the development of electric and electrified motors has given them, to question themselves, to question the architectures established in eternity. For a long time, they housed the electric motors and batteries inside the same rooms as in cars with internal combustion engines.
It should not be seen when a 208 or a Golf gave up the sacred gasoline engine to use electrical energy. They had the excuse to use existing databases to save money. But even when starting from a blank page, the designers kept the same reflexes, reused the same shapes and reproduced the same proportions. Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf kept silhouettes similar to those they would have had by keeping a conventional engine.
Caricaturing in this regard, let’s remember Fisherman Karma, a sublime hybrid grand tourer who displayed lines of ancestral values to the delight of the eyes. Its hood was so long that it hinted at the presence of a 12-cylinder … whereas it contained only a crummy extra four-cylinder.
When BMW set up the “i” department, the company brilliantly adopted a very committed approach in terms of style: the small i3 and the sporty i8 clearly expressed the modernity of their technology through their stylistic treatment. That was before. Today, the design of BMW has returned to the range and is careful not to emphasize the electrification of some of its models. Both the iX and iX3 are lost in the mass of SUVs, in anonymity and banality. Even the probably elegant BMW i4 sedan settles for a conformist vocabulary and does not stand out from the classic series.
Return. In the past, the pioneers of clean energies used light surplus and parody. In 1991, General Motors had the advantage of wanting to market an electric car. But the choices of niche and style turned out to be inconsistent. With its mismatched berlinetta silhouette designed for 24 Hours of Le Mans, the EV-1 coupe was instantly marginalized. Inevitably, he met only a success of esteem by convincing only 1,117 originals.
Let us also remember the first Toyota Prius with hybrid motorization (in 1997) or Honda FCX Clarity, the first car equipped with a fuel cell produced in series (in 2008). They were so ugly, so ugly, that one really had the feeling that by choosing a pure technology one should show one’s hatred for the car, deny all seduction, reject all the qualities of unmotivated aesthetics.
As if these alternative energies should be accompanied by a clear rejection of the car, a rejection of all desire and all pleasure to proclaim his good conscience.
Times have changed. Today, we see the flourishing of cars built on platforms specifically dedicated to electric motors, which authorize innovative architectures and unleash the creativity of designers who play with the distribution of mechanical components – motors, batteries – specific to electric cars. The style accompanies the technological revolution, like the Volkswagen ID.3 that inflicted an old blow on the Gulf overnight, just as the Mercedes-EQE and EQS are radically cross-border compared to the historic E-Class and S.
Even the sacred SUVs come out of their codes. The Nissan Arya or Cadillac Lyriq renews the genre; they have the benefit of having gone from the concept car box to commercialization without being distorted. Significant progress when remembering the disappointments so often recorded when discovering the “right” products after being lured by promising projects.
The Korean group has accustomed us to similar surprises. The remarkable Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6 went on the streets without losing their freshness and avant-garde. Large road sedans that had gone out of use are being gradually rehabilitated, perhaps with the influence of start-ups like Lucid in the background.
One thing has been achieved: the appetite for the sleek, elegant and efficient car is guaranteed with stunts like the Audi e-Tron GT or the Porsche Taycan.