Comment Of The Day: The Face Of EVs Edition

Illustration for article titled Comment Of The Day: The Face Of EVs Edition
Image: Tesla

Why do electric vehicles need to look like traditional cars? Why can’t new EV manufacturers make them look like whatever they want them to be? The batteries are in the floor and the motors can be configured in myriad different layouts, so why do they need a traditional two- or three-box capital-a Automotive design form?


Why does the Mustang Mach-E faux grille look so weird? Why did Tesla facelift the original Model S to have a little grille-like slit around the emblem? Why can’t buyers choose from any number of different EV car shapes? If ICE vehicles can look as disparate as a Plymouth Prowler and a Ford F-150 Raptor, why do all EVs need to look more or less similar to things we’re familiar with? \

I’m not creative enough to come up with a new form factor that EVs could take, but surely there is a designer plugging along at an OEM somewhere looking to go buck wild on their next EV shape. Here’s hoping it comes sooner rather than later.

For instigating this brief consideration of the future of EV design, I give santa clause today’s COTD victory. We are most assuredly in the horseless carriage era of EVs. Thank you, oh jolly one.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.


I’ll start by summarizing Mr. COTD’s and Brownell’s point, as I understand the issue; I put what I assume the takeaway is in bold:

The issue with the Mustang Mach E isn’t that it NEEDS to have a grille. The issue with it, along with Buckus’s examples, is that these cars DO have grille areas that simply do not have a grille.

The Tesla started it when the replaced the grille slit with... nothing. And the issue wasn’t that they got rid of the grille; it was that the didn’t do anything after the fact. So to Santa Clause’s point, all of these cars have front facia’s that literally are not finished. If they wanted to ditch the concept of the grille, they should have redesigned it and not left a boss for one.

Now it’s time for the counterpoint.

Car’s look a certain way and have certain design cues for a reason. And the designs that stray too far away usually do not sell well for the very same reason: the human condition. We have 100 years worth of similar design language to define what a car is and what it should look like. And before you cite the whole “well it’s always been done that way” as a stupid reason, I’d offer there is a good reason car’s look the way they do:

It’s no accident that most cars have two headlights (or headlight areas), a prominent center feature (Grille or radiator in the Model T era), four contact points to the ground (2 on the front, 2 in the rear), and is more or less symmetrical from the front and rear: It resembles a living thing. Headlights are the eyes. The grille, or radiator, or whatever, is the nose or mouth. Four contact points (Wheels) mirror the four legs of an animal. Hell many muscle cars even have rear “hips” much like a panther or some such animal.

This makes a car more relatable. It allows an easier avenue to personify them and therefore bond with them. And that leads to car culture, which is what this site is all about.

The reason crazy weird designs don’t usually do well, is because humans then lose all touch with what just becomes a cold machine. I hope that answers the question of why we still expect a car to have a grille to at least some extent. If I ever get an EV, I will want it to still look like a car.