EV News Roundup – 22

car design

Electric Car Design, The First All-Electric Porsche Sports Car And The First Pure Electric Mazda


Electric Vehicles Will Forever Change How Cars Look


Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of EV manufacturer, Polestar, argues that the transition to electrification gives automakers a significant opportunity to introduce ‘new designs’ to develop the cars of the future.  In an all-electric car, there is no internal combustion engine (ICE) or fuel tank, increasing the possibilities of exploring new design concepts. 

Designers across automotive manufacturers have been unshackled by the shift to zero-emission road transportation.  He argues further, ‘automakers must introduce  revolutionary cars, not evolutionary cars.’  He points to the ‘ugly’ earlier battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that led to ‘public distaste’ for EVs. 


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It is hard to argue against any form of improvement in vehicle design or manufacturing. We agree with the CEO of Polestar, in that, the shift to electrification offers automotive manufacturers a significant opportunity to design new platforms. Many of the previous EVs have usually been built around existing ICE platforms.  However, that has changed in the recent past, with a number of new EVs built on dedicated platforms. The pure electric Porsche Taycan is an example. Of course, pure electric cars developed on a dedicated platform are better placed to explore and introduce innovate designs compared to EVs developed from ICE platforms.  

However, we disagree with the author, in that, not all electric vehicles need to be ‘futuristic’ in design.  We have written about this extensively across a number of articles on the e-zoomed blog. EV manufacturers have adopted two very distinct approaches to electric vehicle design.  These are:

  • Keep design ‘familiar’ to encourage the transition to zero-emission driving (the Audie e-tron is an example of this approach) 
  • Introduce a radical new design that is clearly futuristic (the Tesla Model X is an example of this approach)

In our view, both approaches are valid and only with the passage of time, will the industry be able to validate which of these two approaches is superior.  However, ‘familiarity’ does not mean design innovation has to be limited.  Despite the need to place the EV batteries and electric motors, there is significant scope for creativity.  The easily recognisable falcon wing doors of the Tesla Model X is an example. Whichever approach is taken by automotive manufactures, improving performance and reducing costs should be ‘core’ in the design philosophy. 


Porsche Unveils Its First-Ever Electric Car


The luxury sports automotive manufacturer has unveiled its first all-electric car, the Porsche Taycan. The pure electric Taycan sports car, is part of the Volkswagen Group, US$33 billion push into electrification (Porsche is  owned by Volkswagen). 

The pure electric sports car was unveiled across three global locations, to include, the Niagara Falls, a wind farm in China and a solar farm in Germany. The Porsche Taycan will also be on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month. The company will commence production later in 2019 with deliveries in 2020. 

All-Electric Porsche Taycan (credit: Bloomberg)

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Global automotive manufacturer, Volkswagen, has been pushing hard to derail the success of California based, Tesla, Inc. The launch of the all-electric Audi e-tron SUV failed to make a dent.  Volkswagen is hoping that the Porsche Taycan, which will compete against Tesla Model S, will prove more successful than the Audi e-Tron.  However, we believe a large ‘war chest’ alone cannot result in leadership in the rapidly evolving EV industry.  Like Apple, Tesla has demonstrated an ability to grow a strong base of customers with ‘religious loyalty’.

Can Volkswagen create a new EV religion?  That is the US$ 33 billion question! 


Motor Mouth: Is Mazda’s e-TPV The Perfect Electric Vehicle?


Mazda Motor Corporation, the Japanese automotive company, well known for many successful internal combustion engine (ICE) models, has finally entered the EV race.  The all-electric e-TPV will be the first pure electric car from Mazda, expected to be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, later this year.  The all-electric car will have a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.  Mazda concluded that this is the most ‘optimum’ battery size, taking into consideration factors like weight, range, performance and customer needs.  The car has been positioned for city driving.

mazda electric car e-TPV
Mazda Pure Electric e-TPV (credit: Driving)

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Certainly good to see another major car manufacturer enter the rapidly evolving EV race.  We believe Mazda’s approach in regards to battery size is absolutely correct.  It is a well known fact, that despite consumers eagerness for the ‘largest, fastest, longest etc.’ specifications for any technology product, most barely use a fraction of the available spec.   

Road transportation, in particular, zero-emission electric driving is no different. Despite the amplified concern on range anxiety and the constant need for longer ranges, the reality is that, most commutes will be relatively short distance.  In fact, it is for same reason that both the Mini Electric and Honda e have relatively smaller EV battery packs.  

Mazda is correct to focus on urban driving, with s smaller battery pack, in the hope the lower weight will translate into better  performance and hopefully lower costs.  

We will, of course only learn more later in the year, but hoping Mazda has the ‘magic mix’ of the above ingredients



Author

Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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