The modern engine frees the designer to explore new shapes and be more daring with the vehicle architecture. With the electric car, in particular, car designers are finding a newfound freedom as the thin batteries and motors in wheels free up space and reduce weight.
This is how some vehicle designers have approached current and future zero-emission design as exhibited in the Tokyo Motor Show back in October.
Our pick of the best green car design at Tokyo:
The Land Glider electric car prototype has a single seat and is the Japanese carmaker Nissan’s proposition for future urban mobility. The narrow body and sheer size has been made possible thanks to the ultra thin lithium-ion battery that is discreetly housed beneath the floor. Inspiration has come from two-wheelers, with the car leaning into corners for stability.
Project design director Koji Nagano says he designed the car for a younger audience who are not necessarily interested in big power hungry cars. It will form the basis for an upcoming small city electric car.
Honda’s Skydeck is acleverly configured six-seater hybrid-powered concept car. With many of the driving components, including the high-power battery, housed centrally – rather than behind the rear seats or under the floor – there is enough cabin space for three rows of two seats.
The middle row can also slide under the front thanks to the slim laminated wood seat design. Design features include scissor-doors up front and sliding doors to the rear.
The Leaf is a production car designed by Nissan to be someone’s first electric car experience. For this reason the designers have played it pretty safe sticking to a square five-door hatchback shape. Subtle manipulation of surfaces, however, have helped achieve maximum aerodynamic performance with lots of surface movements and sharp edged bodyside lines that direct airflow from the nose to the rear and away from the car.
The up-slanting LED headlights consume half the energy of conventional lights, and the clever design also redirects airflow away from the door mirrors, helping to reduce wind noise and drag. The Leaf is the first large-scale volume electric production car made for a global market.
The FT-EV II is another urban electric car concept, this time designed by Toyota, that sets to deconstruct our view of the conventional motorcar. It is tiny, but the lithium-ion battery housed beneath the floor creates enough space to enable the cabin to fit four adults.
The drive-by-wire technology allows all driving functions to be controlled using a single joystick.
The P70t Conch is a compact three-seater electric concept car inspired by a golf cart. Designed by students for consultant Phiaro, the urban vehicle features just one door which slides back to reveal a 1+2 layout.
Read my report on Nissan design from the show published in Wallpaper*
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