EV designers can move the industry forward by invoking radical notions of the past

The electric vehicle transition is a generational opportunity to rethink personal transportation design, but few automakers are stepping up. Is there a modern-day Ransom Olds or Henry Ford of EVs waiting in the wings?

There is an interesting styling trend happening in the design studios of European manufacturers. Retro cars harking back to a simpler, happier car culture are showing up with electric powertrains. There is the VW ID Buzz, Fiat 500e, Renault 5e, the Mini electric, and the outrageously cute Microlino.

The iconic “people cars” of the European post-war era used simple, inexpensive-but-elegant design criteria to pull the auto industry (and Europe in general) out of a hole. Now it is the world that needs that pull. This challenge and opportunity is calling out to automakers: their EV designs should target the underlying essence of those wonderful retro creations, not merely replicate their shape.

Tesla Cybertruck (Image: Tesla)

Tesla Cybertruck (Image: Tesla)

The basis of great automotive design is to find that perfect balance between form and function. In a nutshell, form is what we see, and hopefully makes us smile. Function is what moves the car along in a safe and comfortable and (hopefully) environmentally friendly manner.

Read more: ElectricAutonomy

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