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

The internal combustion engine is exiting stage left. While it provided great transportation and performance thrills for many years, it will no longer play a leading role. In its place under the hood will be, well, very little.

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

Ready or not, the curtain is going up on electric vehicles, and most of their mechanical components don’t sit where fossil-fuel engines once performed. Electric motors — far smaller than gasoline engines — are mounted between the wheels. A large transmission no longer gobbles up passenger space. No drive shaft is needed, thus no tunnel in the middle of the floor. The rear seat doesn’t have to be positioned to provide room for a fuel tank.

The E.V.’s power source — the battery — is heavy and large but of minimal height. Situated within the area protected by the wheels, it serves as part of the chassis — a structural member. Nearly all the parameters of vehicle packaging have changed.

Given a new and radically different platform on which to build vehicles, designers are rethinking their approach; the sheet metal that adorned gas-guzzlers can be a misfit here.