THE EV WON’T SET YOU FREE
When we designed the I-Pace, it didn’t have an attribute box because it didn’t exist yet. That was the freest we’ve ever felt. We did it cab-forward because we could. We didn’t need a long bonnet. We shifted the occupants around in the car, and that set up the overall package.
And we took that decision in design because, to put it bluntly, nobody was looking. And we also had a lot of freedom through the skateboard platform. It’s literally a level playing field.
So we started off with this SUV type of vehicle, but as we were evolving it, we realised this looked like nothing else in SUV-land. But nobody challenged it because they didn’t know what it was meant to be. It was just an I-Pace. And it got through the system. Whereas with the e-tron, Audi clearly wanted to emulate an existing form that people understood to be an SUV.
But other things have come into play now. The amount of features is starting to grow. The safety factors are starting to grow. So the package requirements of these things grows too. We may have gained something with the simplicity of an EV, but it’s almost been overtaken by other aspects. The shape of the car is determined by the human beings inside it. We sit in the car, our eyes at the top and our feet at the bottom. Until you put people’s eyes on their feet, cars will stay mostly the shape they are. So I don’t think EV’s will be as radical as we hoped.
For me, the cowl height is the very fulcrum of the car. With the I-Pace, I wanted the cowl height much lower, but ironically it was a windscreen-wiper package designed for a combustion-engine car that stopped us doing that. But you can’t re-engineer every part, and now the emphasis is on using as many components as you can for as long as you can.