Sunday, August 2, 2009

Will Design Save the Electric Car?

Design will play a huge role in the acceptance of future electric and hybrid vehicles. Part of the design challenge for electric cars is to overcome the negative stereotypes created by the auto industry to try to keep us from buying fuel-efficient vehicles. Other designers are trying to make the new electric cars look "normal" for people who don't want an experimental or futuristic look.

Mercedes-Benz has recently announced plans to develop an electric-drive version of the SLS Gullwing. If this car makes it to final production, it will join cars like the Tesla Roadster (right) in the electric sportscar category. What's essential to both of these vehicles is the strong design. The original 300 SL Gullwing, introduced in 1954 (left), is one of the most beautiful cars that Mercedes-Benz ever built. Regardless of the mileage, performance, and other green qualifications, people will want to own this car because they are going to look good driving it. Similarly, although not as universally agreed upon, the Tesla Roadster is very attractive, taking design cues from the Lotus Elise (from whom it derives its chassis technology). There is also the upcoming all-electric Mini, which has received tremendous interest and will undoubtedly be a hot seller when released for mass consumption.

Click on the heading above to see a report from the Green Car Congress on plans for the Mercedes Gullwing.

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