THE EV WON’T SET YOU FREE

Wheels (Australia) - - DESIGN SPECIAL -

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.

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