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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #96: If you can make an EV look like anything, why make it look like this? | Hagerty Media

"That's for grandfathers who are down on their luck." The year was 1987, or possibly 1988, and the car was a brand-new Hyundai Excel, in the omnipresent dull red of the early dealership arrivals, questionably enhanced with a fake convertible top and equally fake "Continental kit" that looked like it stored a spare wire wheel above the rear bumper but in reality was a single wavy fiberglass piece.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-96-if-you-can-make-an-ev-l...
132 REPLIES 132
ReinholdWeege
Intermediate Driver

Flaunting personality is so Gen-X. And boomer. And Greatest Gen.

The future is in producing an inoffensive car-shape, like an icon that would show which lever to pull for opening the hood, if the hood actually opened. Anything more than that, like a tailfin or a spoiler equals an unrequired consumption of resources. Who needs a spoiler when the pod drives itself anyway? The algorithm isn't going to push the limits of handling.

Now there might be a market for an LED system that would use that minimalist real estate to display a message of social justice; perhaps an unhappy face for right turns and a smiley for lefts. The ultimate in virtue signalling. It might even color the entire car for particular causes for particular months. (Google calendar could be utilized to make sure you won't suffer the shame of forgetting to change to pink on the 1st of Woman's month, etc.)
Tim
Instructor

"Flaunting personality is so Gen-X. And boomer. And Greatest Gen."

You've named every generation with a remaining living representative except one. May we presume you are part of the generation that is the only in history to correct the "flaunting personality" flaw?
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I believe he is being sarcastic here, and that he is actually making a point about a decline in personality...
Studenorton
Advanced Driver

Aide de Camp: You know, sometimes the men don't know when you're acting.
Patton: It's not important for them to know. It's only important for me to know.
Swamibob
Instructor

Going off on the idea of the car changing color, maybe there could be MOOD EV, sorta like the Mood ring, where the EV changes color with your moods? Then, if you got too angry, or too far right, the vehicle could turn a particular shade of Umber and not allow you to drive until agents of the Government came and took you away to re-education camp. 🙂
guimurad
New Driver

great words, as always. Just wrong in 2 counts;

1-it's not Issigonis' it is Giacosa's; The mini had the engine above the axle and thus not much overhang. The 128 had it all hanging there. But your point was well made.
2-you are still a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG way to go before you reach a "Brazil-style economy". Trust me.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

What can I say? You're right on both counts 🙂
OldFordMan
Detailer

Just another TUB! Ugh.
F360Spider
Detailer

Lost me about the third paragraph. Sorry, ranting about nothing is a waste of oxygen.
toddh9
Pit Crew

Well played, sir. You hit the nail in the head - where is the electric VW microbus or Buzz we were promised?
Studenorton
Advanced Driver

Man, electrics could solve all the "engine problems" of the Microbus and the Cor-Van. We could re-enter the golden age of shag carpet upholstery. And all those drugs are legal now.
TrustyRusty
Intermediate Driver

Planting a 4.3 GM V-6 in the back of the Samba and "Cor-Van" could resurrect those icons of bygone days. Forget the AC-DC lack luster, buzz bombs of the 21st century.
Rider79
Instructor

But that would not solve the dynamics and safety issues that Jack alludes to; those two flatnoses would still be lethal killers in forward collisions. And most rational people prefer to live. An occasional drive in a Corvan to a car show 10 miles away is one thing, while driving 15-20,000 miles a year, in all types of traffic and weather, is quite another.

Personally, I would ignore the crude 4.3 V6 anyway, and go with the Buick-designed 3800 V6; it started out at least as crude, but was quite well-developed by the time it was discontinued.
Scramboleer
New Driver

It’s coming to the U.S.
In 2023 supposedly.
tdskip
Intermediate Driver

“ to make them as usable as a 1977 Cutlass Supreme...”

The ID4 is roomier, faster, brakes better, handles better, way better built, has 50% range in reserve beyond the average America driver daily usage, will likely have far less in maintenance costs of consumables etc.

Is the ID4 perfect? Nope but then again it’s not target at the typical Hagerty member either.



trymes
Intermediate Driver

The author starts with a good premise, then just whines a lot. The down here in the comments, people who have never driven a decent EV opine about how terrible they are, because that's what they heard a talking head on TV tell them. Frequent repeating of debunked "facts" about how they aren't actually better for the environment, and finally:

"They're no fun, they drive like an appliance" - I bet if I let them drive my "appliance" for a week, I'd have trouble getting them to give it back.

Still have the MGC, @tdskip?
tdskip
Intermediate Driver

Hey! How are you? Well as can be I hope. I sold the MGC roadster back to a very happy buyer/good home in the UK a while ago but just picked up a ratty MGC GT. Pretty excited to have one back to horrify people with the 5 shades of red that it current is, grin.

drhino
Instructor

Trymes, you would lose that bet with me. I don’t care how fast it is; I won’t drive anything without a clutch pedal. Or something that sounds like a Kirby.

What talking head on TV does anything but lavish praise on EVs?

What facts have been debunked? That there’s no infrastructure? That range is an issue? That the production of electricity isn’t green (or if it is that it’s not dependable)? That the mining of needed materials is rife with human rights issues?
tdskip
Intermediate Driver

@drhino- seriously? You think that is really a rebuttal of anything?

 

Here is a hint - when your whole premise is based on ignoring anything you don't want to surface because it risks negating your assertion you have VERY weak core assertion.

Rider79
Instructor

I have driven both the Leaf and the Bolt, and yes, they do drive well - and totally devoid of emotion and personality.
Billthecat707
Detailer

Like a Camry. The only car I ever drove that I couldn't remember driving. Did everything it was designed for, but totally forgettable.
ReinholdWeege
Intermediate Driver

When it's -10 and there's a foot of fresh snow on the ground, I'll take the Cutlass on good tires. Or when it's 110, given that batteries fall off fast in temp extremes. Or if I robbing a bank and my hideout is 50 miles off the grid. Or when either is more than 20 years old. Or if another human being will see me enter/exit the vehicle. But when picking up the forth wall of my video parlor at IKEA, definitely the VW.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

It's 413 miles from my house to Hagerty's home office.

So in my case, I need a Cutlass Supreme 🙂
tdskip
Intermediate Driver

But that isn’t your daily drive, is it Jack? Kind of like living on an island and complaining the ID4 isn’t a boat. 

Tsaxman
Detailer

Full of 95 Octane.
Rider79
Instructor

And at least one gas stop, with that (if memory serves) 18- or 19-gallon tank, and 15-17 MPG. I know; I owned a 1976 Regal coupe with the 350-4V, ordered new by my dad in 1976. Comfortable, quiet, and plush-riding? Damn straight!

I wish I could buy a new coupe like that now, but with modern safety, horsepower, MPG, brakes, and handling, without sacrificing the ride (that last thing is possible: drive a 2014-2020 Impala).
Billthecat707
Detailer

You can, it's a Scat Pak Challenger, or R/T, or Hellcat
brians356
Detailer

My '92 Civic VX with 250k miles on the original 1.5L mill can beat any Long Range version Tesla from my Reno home to Las Vegas by an hour, the EV driven as fast as desired, and me abiding all speed limits. Zero to Starbucks elapsed time is irrelevant in the back of beyond.
Cornbinder
Intermediate Driver

...but you can drive a '77 Cutlass Supreme from Bemidji, MN to Havre, MT in less than a day. In January. Thanks again, Jack, for being one of the few in the automotive media who haven't drank the "EV's are the savior to all" Kool-Aid. EV's and ICE's have their place, it's just not always the same place.
MrKnowItAll
Detailer

VW is still petrified from the diesel “scandal” and lurched to the golf cart.... er, EV market.
Radical design? Ask Chrysler when they introduced the Airflow.... or Tesla, that used a Mallard duck as a design inspiration.
Cars (practically all station wagons today, no matter what they’re called) will become boring self driving appliances.
wentwest
Intermediate Driver

I feel like the electric appliance that will move us around in cities and the suburbs hasn't been offered to the public yet. The closest thing that we can see is the electric people movers that shuttle us around in airports. With AI and the growing population, along with environmental issues, it's pretty clear that the commuting function of cars will be served with electric drones that will come to you when you request them - like an Uber does now - and then drive themselves to a waiting area after dropping you off at a place where you join the herd in larger units, or to a place where they recharge. At that point they won't be ours, they will be transportation units that we don't consider at all.
Citroguy
New Driver

Citroen Ami.
OCULUSNY
Intermediate Driver

Wee oui.
Utopia1
Detailer

Unpopular opinion: Tesla's are ugly. The front-end style in particular looks like it was inspired by a Ken doll with no pants on (think about it for a moment, you'll see it). The model X, on whole, is particularly unattractive. But this doesn't stop any Tesla from being popular though because they're in vouge right now.
And while I don't find the ID.4's styling to be particularly ground breaking, it isn't ugly....it's inoffensive. To your point, it doesn't do anything style-wise that a gas-powered car couldn't. But when automakers are risking, as you say, billions, it DOES matter. Because risk matters and they're trying to appeal to as many people as possible. Buyers can find enough reasons not to buy a BEV right now, VW doesn't need odd styling to pile on. I'm confident the cool EV designs will come...just a bit later.
trymes
Intermediate Driver

@Utopia1: That's actually a very popular opinion. It's one I don't understand, as I think the Model S is probably the best looking car on the market, even today after nearly a decade. (The X is funny-looking, but it's effectively a minivan, so not surprising). However, LOTS of people don't like them, and I think it's the lack of a grille. (It's also that lots of folks just don't like Tesla, too.)

Except for wedge-shaped sports cars with flip-up headlights, a significant portion of the population HATES cars with no grille. I think back to the first Passat to wear that badge in the US and how revolutionary it looked with just a flat panel between the headlights, but lots of people hated it and they slapped a grille on it for the mid-cycle refresh. To the author's point, though, the Teslas don't need a grille (nor do really any modern cars), as the vents in the lower bumper are more than enough for their cooling needs.
OldRoad
Instructor

In a few years when the Batteries start to wane and the costs to replace them out weigh the value of these electric cars. Popularity will drop sharply.
Jason_H
New Driver

People said the same thing about hybrid batteries. 20 years later we see that most hybrid batteries last the life of the vehicle. I've had two - sold one at 12 years and one at 10 years and the hybrid batteries worked fine.

EV batteries are warrantied for 8 years. That is just the warranty not the useful life. That is way more than "a few years"

The one EV that has had premature battery failures is the Nissan Leaf and that is because Nissan decided to be cheap and not use liquid cooled / heated batteries
Tim
Instructor

You are making the author's point. As he said in so many words, the Tesla doesn't need a front grille, therefore should not be designed with one. But people reject radical change, therefore are demanding that useless emblems of pre-historic (in EV terms) design be attached.
acooper529
Intermediate Driver

Stole my thought exactly.
VW bus EV could be cool for local or city use.
uweschmidt
Detailer

Styling isnt the only problem modern cars seem to imply that everybody is extremely stupid and cant possibly operate a car with a few basic controls and nobody deserves a beautiful styled car
that lifts your spirits even by looking at it sitting on the road also people are beeing trained to rely on thousands of $ worth of Technology for driving safely ( the ultimate Safety equipment between peoples Ears is put to sleep in favour of more stuff ( I have been Waiting for Cars to appear without a Windshield instead they wil have a Giant T v screen in front of you This will have " enhanced Colour and all gages displayed around it and will give you the picture of the Road ahead as well "what a concept" maybe another Option for around $ 3000




gtf
Pit Crew

Agree. I had Nov 2019 Mach e reservation and finally cancelled it in Dec 2020. Besides what looked like impending technical delays it was just another Tesla clone CUV from a design standpoint. Wound up with Bronco Sport instead - a car with some design effort. If Ford wanted a low volume, go fast EV it should have been like their demo mustang fastback with 7 electric drive motors. Ford totally missed the design mark on the Mustang Mach e by staying safe with the current (and rapidly aging) CUV shape. Right on point with this article - good job.
trymes
Intermediate Driver

@gtf: I'm all for your being against the terrible crossover shape/design, but to then follow up that critique by saying you bought a Bronco Sport mystifies me. How on earth is the Bronco Sport different from the other crossovers, other than in detail. It's still a jumped up station wagon, perhaps a little boxier, but it's just another crossover at the end of the day.
PorscheMan
Intermediate Driver

Saw a Machie on the highway a couple days ago; wouldn't have noticed it if it weren't for the taillights.
Haven't seen a BroncoIII yet.
noah300g
Intermediate Driver

All companies use the same CAD/CAM software to get the coefficient of drag they need for either gas mileage or electric range, and that's why you can't tell a Hyundai from a BMW.
ppointer
Intermediate Driver

Or maybe a BMW Isetta. Anyway, great article!!
hyperv6
Gearhead

Here is the harsh screaming reality of this deal.

#1 much of the shape is governed by every millimeter to tune for aerodynamics. The shape of the roof, nose and even the quarter panels account for range. We even see this in ICE cars and CUV models.

If you work on the second floor or higher you will note nearly all greenhouses are now wider at the front and narrow to the rear.

As for why many are CUV models that is what people are buying as utility rules not ego, image or just plain cool.

Then you toss into the mix the crash testing.

The automakers are not copying Tesla. Cadillac is proof of that with their CUV that is coming. But the nature of aero is what directs much of this and few companies taking a styling risk. Safe sells and failures cost.

The love affair with the car is over in the general public. Skeptical? Look at the Nissan Cube.

It is not easy to meet all the needed points and still expand on styling in a two box design.

GM tried to do it and how did that go? Aztek?

Today it is about maximizing income as the companies that don’t merge or fail. It is not enough to just make money anymore.

If Harley Earl was alive I believe he would be shedding a tear.

That the fact Jack!
BiffNotZeem
Pit Crew

I call BS. The ID.4 is from VW. VW doesn't sell bold design statements. They sell vehicles in volume. VW Group has other marques that make design statements.

Why does it look the way it does? Utility and cost and, yes, familiarity. Because they want to sell a lot of them.

Aside from VW's on-going inability to write software, the ID.4 seems like it has accomplished what they intended.
dan5
Pit Crew

Well.... I am going to try to give you a perspective as someone who worked in product engineering for nearly 40 years for a very large OEM, with 15 years experience in hybrid and electric propulsion and vehicles. If you really get into this, you will find that in most cases the form follows the required functions.
What most people don't understand about electric vehicles is their relative complexity. The usual mental model for the uninitiated is that it's just a battery and a motor--how hard can that be? And wow, you can just throw in wheel motors and everything is cool-- lots of space to do anything. First, wheel motors may come of age, but they are relatively complex and expensive and often place a lot of unsprung weight out at the wheels where you don't want it. Next, high quality electric cars are not simple. The magic that allows modern electric vehicles begins with high power variable frequency inverters to drive the motor(s) and advanced batteries. If you don't have wheel motors, you need a "drive unit" (think transmission) that contains motors and gears. This requires complex support systems for thermal management (cooling the power electronics and managing the battery), charging, control systems, HVAC systems, heavy copper cables, junction boxes, contactors, electronic controllers and so forth. All of these things require packaging space and many require air flow. You can move them around the car, but they must not intrude on passenger space-so most package under a conventional hood or trunk space. Take a look under the hood of a Bolt (EV) or a Prius (Hybrid) or one of their competitors and look at the amount of hardware required to make it go.
Finally, an electric car needs to be integrated to meet all of the customer requirements for function and driving range (mass and aero) while complying with all the regulations by various government entities for crash, pedestrian protection and so forth. Vehicle integration in the electric world is just as challenging as in the conventional world, perhaps tougher.
I do think we'll see more variation in designs over time, but certain facts of physics will limit that to a great extent.
uweschmidt
Detailer

Relative complexity? not by necessity but by design Electric Cars and Hybrids were bullt 100 years ago and the main difference between them and modern ones is that to operate a 1916 (or so) woods dual powered Car you needed at least half a useful Brain while the majority of modern drivers have only one fully developed Skill and that is :holding the Gas pedal down Furthermore (and I fully understand that is that Auto Engineers need their Jobs) like everyone else Mortgage has to be Paid Kids need shoes etc etc so we design Stuff ( sometimes to perfection ) and the next Year Model its deleted ( in a total re design) quite often with someone elses engine or transmissionand on and on and the styiling challenges are carefully tailored not to make a car to radical different then the competition Rare Example of Radical Thinking 1965 Mustang