The Design of Electric Vehicles

19 September of 2010 by

batteries The Design of Electric VehiclesI’m always interested in what the folks in electric vehicle autodesign come up with.  Common wisdom dictates an approach in which an EVdriver makes a bold and clear statement of his choice — and hisenvironmental consciousness — to the world around him. And, from adesign perspective, this isn’t at all hard to accomplish (but of course, that’s easy for me to say).  Simply building something a bit smallerand more aerodynamic than our standard coupes and sedans of the early 21st Century gets the job done nicely, while extending range and thusimproving driver convenience.  The recently unveiled four-passengerelectric car (pictured here) designed by a team of entrepreneurs basednear Paris, called NEOMA, is a terrific example — though some might find it a bit extreme.

It appears that the product teams in the largest and mostsophisticated OEMs (GM, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, etc.) want to “split the difference,” designing EVs that are noticeably different from their internal combustion counterparts, but sufficiently close so as toappeal to people who wish to be less conspicuous in the automotivechoices. 

I hav no market research that supports my belief, but I have to think that most EV early adopters are proud of what they’re doing – and wantto tell others, if for no other reason than to announce the availability of EVs to a world that has anxiously awaited this moment for quite some time.

Design approaches that completely miss this chance mystify me, to behonest. Coda is the example that most immediately comes to mind. Asshown on their website, the Coda design team has deliberately built a car that few people will be able todistinguish as an EV.  They have some pretty smart people over there –and an incredible sum of investment capital. How well will thiscontrarian design strategy work out?  Have they simply lost an important opportunity?  We’ll see.

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