Retro-inspired vehicles are making a comeback, thanks to EVs

  • Despite the modern nature of electric vehicles, more and more new EVs are taking designs that follow the design language of significantly older predecessors.
  • On the other hand, other EV OEMs are pushing the design envelope with brand new designs that look completely unique on the road.
  • Here’s a look at two sides of the EV coin: retro inspired models, and all-new designs.

Why these new designs?

On the whole, in the past, the vast majority of common cars on the road have followed the same format – an internal combustion engine up front, with transmission tunnels and fuel tanks eating into interior space, while also influencing the shape of the car. However, EVs on the whole, save for those built on legacy ICE platforms, are being built on a ‘skateboard’ design, with a completely flat floor pan, this gives designers much more freedom to work with, and makes lounge-like concept cars seen in the past a feasible reality.

That’s not to say manufacturers won’t fill up these flat spaces again – the Polestar 2’s interior contains what looks like a transmission tunnel running through the car, but is instead a gap to fill some of its 324 battery cells, also helping to create an enclosed cockpit feel for the driver.

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Retro-inspired EVs

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

The ID. Buzz took the internet by storm when it was revealed back in 2023, mimicking the boxy design of the original, first generation Volkswagen Transporter. Available in both cargo and seven seater form, the aftermarket has already begun converting these into campervans. The ID. Buzz is based on the same skateboard MEB platform as all vehicles in the ID. range, maximising its space inside.

Renault 5 / Alpine A290

The recently-unveiled Renault 5 is another example of retro design coming back with EVs. It uses Renault’s all-new AmpR Small chassis, which the company plans to use in more future compact electric cars. This means, despite its similar design to the original Renault 5, it’ll comfortably seat five with luggage, and it maintains sporty handling with a low centre of gravity, thanks to batteries under the flat floor.

An even sportier take on the Renault 5, the Alpine A290, is expected to be revealed this summer.

Fiat 500e

The Fiat 500e is another retro-inspired EV, which will face some serious competition from the Renault 5. The flat floor pan means Fiat has managed to keep the car true to the proportions of previous models, whilst still extending cabin space – so fitting four adults inside is much easier than its petrol predecessor.

Futuristic EVs

Polestar 4

The upcoming Polestar 4 is controversially rewriting the rules, by doing away with a rear windscreen. A glass roof now extends behind the rear passengers head, removing the traditional sloping roofline which often creates headroom problems for vertically-gifted rear passengers. Instead, the rear view mirror is replaced by a screen and a camera on the rear, which Polestar say is safer at night, allowing you to see much more than you’d see in the dark with a traditional mirror.

Kia EV6

The EV6 uses the bespoke Hyundai E-GMP EV platform, also shared with models such as the retro-meets-futuristic Hyundai IONIQ 5. Despite its flat platform however, and unlike its IONIQ sibling, Kia have decided to build a solid centre console to create a more sporty cockpit feel.

Mercedes EQS

Unlike many of Mercedes-Benz’s current electric models, which use platforms that need to accommodate for both combustion and electric powertrains, the EQS platform is built from the ground up to only accommodate for an electric powertrain. The EQS also manages up to 380 miles of range between charges, partly thanks to a drag coefficient of just 0.2, the lowest of any mass-produced passenger car.

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