25 Aug How Electric Vehicles are Driving Automotive Interior Trends
Without the restriction of a cumbersome internal combustion engine or fuel tank, electric vehicles have begun a new trend in automotive interiors. Of course, there needs to be space for the batteries and electric motor in EV’s, but many EV auto manufacturers are looking for ways to break free from traditional auto frameworks when it comes to design, such as Ford’s new Mustang Mach-E, with a cooler under the hood. Electric vehicle technology hasn’t always been looked upon fondly by consumers, who, in the past, have criticized the look of electric cars simply because they didn’t look like traditional cars. Now, however, manufacturers are experimenting with more aerodynamic designs and incorporating them into SUVs, sedans, and sporty vehicles.
EV Interiors – How are They Transforming Traditional Auto Trends?
With no need for a gas gauge on the dashboard, EV designers are opting for a sleeker, futuristic look. Since connectivity is an integral part of our lives, it’s equally important to incorporate cars with a central hub containing a great display and easy-to-use controls such as voice command and Bluetooth connections. In other words, less is more to current EV buyers since user experience is one of the most prominent things buyers are looking for in a car. From a functionality standpoint, electric vehicles don’t require as much front-air intake as a traditional vehicle since cooling the engine isn’t as necessary. Instead, designers can now focus on efficient designs that promote battery life.
Electric Vehicle Powertrain Design Trends
Beyond user experience, safety standards are obviously a top priority for buyers. All EV’s go through rigorous testing for safety and compliance, ensuring:
- Batteries stay secure during a crash
- There is a limited risk of a chemical spill from batteries
- The chassis is isolated from the car’s high-voltage system to prevent electric shock.
Electric vehicles are also built with a lower center of gravity than regular cars, so they have a better chance of avoiding rollover during an accident. This lower center of gravity is also said to improve ride quality. One potential safety issue with EVs is their near-silent operation, which can make it difficult for pedestrians to sense when they are near.
Heating & Cooling EV’s
Each electric vehicle manufacturer has a different way of managing powertrain heating and cooling. For instance, the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf use passive airflow cooling to their battery packs, liquid cooling for the rest of their powertrain components, and motor. However, Tesla EVs make use of an interconnected liquid heating and cooling system throughout the entire powertrain.
EV Battery Life
The battery life of electric vehicles is something that has definitely improved over time and is still being improved upon with each new model. McKinsey & Company enlisted a team of engineers to manually disassemble 10 EV models to inspect their batteries, powertrain components, and technology that drives these cars forward. McKinsey’s engineers discovered a variety of cylindrical, prismatic, and pouch batteries are utilized in modern EV’s with multiple chemistries. They didn’t find a particular winner when it came to battery life and longevity in these designs, but they determined that the manufacturers had improved battery life by 30% between the years 2011 and 2018.
Native EV’s Vs. Non-Native EV’s
McKinsey research and testing also found that native EV’s – which are vehicles that are designed as electric vehicles, not adapted into an EV from a prior gas-powered vehicle, have a clear advantage when it comes to driving and interior space as the battery compartment is well-thought-out instead of awkwardly adapted to a car’s traditional footprint. A native EV’s battery pack can be condensed to fit at the very bottom of the vehicle, optimizing interior space by up to 10%.
Powertrain Components and Materials
Traditional vehicles are being made with different plastics and other materials in order to reduce the weight of the vehicle and enhance fuel efficiency. However, EV manufacturers, who don’t need to worry about fuel consumption have experimented with vehicle body materials such as aluminum, steel, and carbon fiber to find the best material for long-range driving.
Each EV manufacturer has a different supply-chain strategy for batteries and components, with some being outsourced, and some made in-house:
- Chinese EV-maker, BYD makes all their own major powertrain components for their e6 vehicles in-house
- Tesla sources its EV battery cells from Panasonic, transmission components from BorgWarner, and makes all its own battery packs, power electronics, and motors
- Chevrolet outsources most of its powertrain components for the Chevy Bolt, as well as most of the electronics and user interface components from LG in Korea
Electric Vehicle Growth Projections
It’s taken a while for the consumer market to adapt to the idea of electric or even hybrid vehicles, but as more people buy, overall trust in the technology should improve over time. In 2019, EV manufacturers made a pledge to invest $225 billion over the next few years in EV development due to restrictive emissions regulations and high-stakes fuel efficiency guidelines in most countries. Some big-name car companies have lofty goals for their EV lineups, including:
- Toyota – one of the first to enter the hybrid/EV scene – their vehicles already make up 80% of the hybrid market worldwide, and their goal is to generate half of all their auto sales from electric cars by 2025.
- Volkswagen aims to spend over $30 billion on EV development by 2023 and hopes to have 1 million of their EVs on the road by then.
- In 2019, GM announced they would be evolving their beloved Cadillac into their leading EV, including a large-model Cadillac SUV by 2023. GM also hopes to have electric versions of nearly all Cadillac vehicle models by 2030.
- Ford’s Mustang Mach-E hit the market last year as a sporty crossover vehicle, and Ford plans to continue by adding an impressive 40-electric-vehicle lineup by 2022.
- Volvo released its first EV in 2019 and is expected to hit the market later this year. Volvo announced that it aims to generate half of its sales globally from EV’s by 2025. At that point, the company will have reduced its carbon footprint from each vehicle produced, by 40%. Beyond that, Volvo has set the course to become completely climate-neutral by 2040.
- Honda’s E-city car was released in 2019, and the company says all European models sold will be either hybrid or fully electric by 2022. In North America, the Honda E and Honda Fit will lead the way.
- In 2019, BMW released an electric Mini Cooper SE and will be offering 25 electric vehicle models by 2023
- Nissan’s LEAF Plus was introduced in 2019 and the company plans to offer 8 new EVs over the next two years.
- Mercedes-Benz (Daimler) announced in 2017 that it will invest $11 billion into its EQ series of EV cars, and roll out 10 models by 2022.
Innovative Automation Automotive Manufacturing
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