Why are hybrid / electric cars designed so over-styled?

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  • Why are hybrid / electric cars designed so over-styled?
  • zeesaffa
    Member

    I am considering a hybrid because I spend most of my day driving short distances around town visiting clients, etc.

    It might just be me but I’m not too keen on the looks of most of the hybrid cars on the market that are within my price range.

    They all seem over-styled. I don’t think I am the only one that thinks this. I bet if they made some that look more like the everyday car (Golf, etc) that they would sell more… or maybe not?

    What do you think the reasons are that manufacturers design them so?

    trail_rat
    Member

    How do you know someone’s driving an electric car ?

    Well like a vegan they will have told you ten times.

    Then when you get to the carpark itll be an easy spot in the carpark.

    wilburt
    Member

    BMW 3 series and the Golf look the same as other models.

    I saw a Lexus recently that looked very nice.

    In fact I think only the Prius is a bit ‘look at me’

    andyl
    Member

    what about a hybrid golf?

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
    Subscriber

    Loads of hybrid options that look normal, plenty of German variants.

    The Nissan Leaf looks fairly normal too for all electric.

    Part of the issue is presumably getting the right shape for both aerodynamics and battery accommodation and freed of needing a shape designed round an (larger) internal combustion engine they can do different things for the aero aspects.

    FuzzyWuzzy
    Member

    As has been said there’s hybrid versions of lots of mainstream cars, as for purpose built ones I guess it’s to make them look futuristic but yeah I agree most are over-styled.
    It’s the batteries that still hold me back from considering a hybrid/full electric car. I guess the Prius has been around a while but for people that hold on to cars for 10 years are we setting ourselves up for a big expense down the line (or batteries that only hold 10% of the charge they used to when they were new). I can’t say I’ve done any research on it (as not looking to replace mine at the moment but surely the batteries have a limited lifetime and cost a load to replace?

    stumpy01
    Member

    You’re probably on noticing the ‘overstyled’ ones.

    There are lots that aren’t like that.

    Golf
    Toyota Yaris/Auris
    BMW (I think).
    Nissan Leaf & Renault Zoe doesn’t look too ‘out there’ although they are full electric….

    Interesting Nissan Leaf Fact, fact fans….
    The headlights are shaped the way they are to deflect air flow around the wing mirrors at speed.
    During testing they found without the engine noise, the wind noise around the wing mirrors was intrusive, so re-designed the headlights to push the air around the wing mirrors at speeds where it becomes an issue. Dunno why, but I like little details like that.

    alanf
    Member

    ^^^Trailrat

    Done so Joe Public knew it was a ‘special’ car when they weren’t that common.
    More mainstream now so not as much need to stand out

    Premier Icon igm
    Subscriber

    I sit on a couple of regional and national groups considering the impact of EVs.

    They are starting to become really serious options.

    squirrelking
    Member

    I can’t say I’ve done any research on it (as not looking to replace mine at the moment but surely the batteries have a limited lifetime and cost a load to replace?

    See those wee 18650 batteries you get in ultrafire torches? That’s what you get in an electric/hybrid car. Just more of them.

    Half the batteries “new” on ebay come from old laptop batteries sent to china for reprocessing.

    It’s easy enough to fix them and keep a car on the road, as they become more mainstream you’ll see back street mechanics offering cell testing and pack refurbishment.

    retro83
    Member

    So the owners can drive round like this

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    Its the future innit?

    maxtorque
    Member

    squirrelking
    See those wee 18650 batteries you get in ultrafire torches? That’s what you get in an electric/hybrid car. Just more of them.

    Only in a Tesla, and sensibly they are designing them out and moving to pouch cells like everyone else, due to the thermal and package constraints with lots of round cells.

    And to the OP, i think you’ll find ALL cars are rather over styled these days, not just the ‘lecy ones!

    geetee1972
    Member

    Is it to compensate for them being otherwise dull?

    ‘The poor boy changes clothes and puts on aftershave,
    To compensate for his ordinary shoes……’

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I can’t say I’ve done any research on it (as not looking to replace mine at the moment but surely the batteries have a limited lifetime and cost a load to replace?

    They aren’t used the same as the ones in your laptop. If you charge a battery to 100% and discharge it to 2% or whatevever then they last a few years. However if you keep them between 80% and 40% they last forever. That’s what my car does.

    See those wee 18650 batteries you get in ultrafire torches? That’s what you get in an electric/hybrid car. Just more of them.

    Well, in some – but Priuses (at least last time I checked) use NiMH batteries unless you pay extra for the plug-in version.

    Re the shape – that Prius shape is the ideal aerodynamic profile for a 4 seater car, or as close to it as they can get.

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    I am struggling to think which PHEV looks different to its diesel/petrol equivalent.

    Re the shape – that Prius shape is the ideal aerodynamic profile for a 4 seater car, or as close to it as they can ge

    Where is that info from?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Somewhere on the internet back from when I used to read extensively about these things. Feel free to challenge.

    nealglover
    Member

    Feel free to challenge.

    The Tesla Model S, the S Class Mercedes, and the Mercedes CLA are all more aerodynamically efficient than the current Prius (and all previous ones)

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Not sure that’s true but anyway, they may be able to offset a less aero overall shape with other features, like for example the Tesla being a sports car and presumably being lower to the ground.

    Last time we did this I found a list but I can’t find it this time.

    bikebouy
    Member

    Are they overstyled ? Fit for purpose I reckon..

    willard
    Member

    Bikebouy, he was talking about modern leccy vehicles, not classics like that.

    kerley
    Member

    As others have said – some are over styled, many are exactly the same as their petrol counterpart.

    Many petrol cars are overstyled i.e. Honda Civic, Toyota C-HR

    Not a fan myself, but guessing some people like over-styled cars otherwise they wouldn’t sell any ?

    like for example the Tesla being a sports car and presumably being lower to the ground.

    That’ll be the huge 5 door hatchback that is the Tesla, will it?

    nealglover
    Member

    Not sure that’s true

    It is.

    but anyway, they may be able to offset a less aero overall shape with other features, like for example the Tesla being a sports car and presumably being lower to the ground.

    All three are full size 4/5 seater 4/5 door luxury cars.

    Where is that info from?

    Toyotas marketing i guess. Even back when the Prius was new, it was only one of the dozen or so leaders in Cd terms. Where it won out was CdA. So profile wasn’t as good as it could have been, but it was quite small relative to anything else with a comparable Cd. IIRC it was a bit narrower than most other competitors, but it’s a long time since i’ve looked, or cared.

    So, in terms of small/medium 4 seater saloons at that price point, i wouldn’t be surprised if it did have the best CdA.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Toyotas marketing i guess.

    Probably something on green car congress. The Wikipedia page puts Tesla S and X, Merc C class and a few others on the same value at 0.24.

    So, in terms of small/medium 4 seater saloons at that price point, i wouldn’t be surprised if it did have the best CdA.

    That’s what I said I think.

    But anyway – I didn’t say it was the most aero car – I said that shape was as close as possible to the ideal shape.

    nealglover
    Member

    But anyway – I didn’t say it was the most aero car – I said that shape was as close as possible to the ideal shape.

    That would suggest that it would be difficult to get anything better though wouldn’t it ?

    But as the rather large list of massive cars shows (which also includes the Mercedes C Class, and the Audi A4 Saloon) it isn’t hard to beat at all.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    That would suggest that it would be difficult to get anything better though wouldn’t it ?

    No. Drag is a function of overall shape, but also frontal area and things like wing mirrors, panel gaps, door handles, wheel arches and so on. So whilst a Tesla may be a less optimal shape, it might make up for it in these other areas.

    nealglover
    Member

    Ok. So it’s not just that have read something presuming it was Science, when in fact it was just Marketing ?

    Not that.

    molgrips wrote:

    That’s what I said I think.

    Not quite, this is where all the various terms get mucked about with, you’ve used both Cd (which is dimensionless), CdA (which is Cd “scaled up” to the size of the object) and drag, which is the net output. Resistance to motion due to aerodynamics.

    Marketing departments are terrible for this.

    Four cars with a Cd of 0.24 will all have different CdA figures. Related to their size.

    mrmonkfinger
    Member

    However if you keep them between 80% and 40% they last forever. That’s what my car does.

    They don’t actually last forever though, do they?

    Life is extended, vs-a-vs completely full to dead flat, for sure. Immortal, no.

    IIRC you get about twice as much charging and discharging over the fullness of time, if you keep cycle depth to 30 or 40%. Something like 5 times as many charge cycles, but they’re all shallow.

    And, the thing is, you have to cart around a battery that is physically three times as much as you would otherwise.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    They don’t actually last forever though, do they?

    No, not actually forever no. A very long time though. The MkII Prius battery was warrantied for 10 years in the US IIRC. And they aren’t failing en masse either. Mine is still perfectly fine after ten years, which is more than you can say for most laptop batteries.

    And, the thing is, you have to cart around a battery that is physically three times as much as you would otherwise.

    That’s true, which is why laptop manufacturers don’t do it. What I am saying is don’t draw conclusions about car batteries from your consumer electronics experience, because they are managed differently.

    Four cars with a Cd of 0.24 will all have different CdA figures. Related to their size.

    Yes, I noticed the difference whilst reading after I’d posted. However I think my point still stands, don’t you? The reason Priuses look like that is for aerodynamic reasons, in response to the OP’s question.

    nealglover
    Member

    However I think my point still stands, don’t you? The reason Priuses look like that is for aerodynamic reasons, in response to the OP’s question.

    *genuinely not being difficult for the sake of it*

    I’m not sure your point does still stand.

    If that was the main reason, then all the other cars that have a better Cd (not size related) would look similar.

    But they don’t, they all look like “normal” cars.

    Audi A4 Saloon, couldn’t be more different from the Prius, and is the epitome of a normal looking car. But it has a better Cd than the Prius.

    I think the Prius looks the way it does, primarily for marketing reasons, to get noticed.

    winston
    Member

    The traction battery in an EV or hybrid is about the most reliable part you can find on any modern vehicle. It is also warrantied for at least 5 years. My hybrid battery (toyota) is warrantied up to 100,000 miles or 10 years. My Leaf for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

    However there are a lot of other HV parts that can break….and if they do they are very expensive. A new DC inverter for a Leaf is 2k plus labour. Most stuff like that is covered under warranty for 5 years and not many have broken

    They don’t actually last forever though, do they?

    Latest battery manufacturer figures show negligible loss in performance (range/power) over 10 years. About 5%. Give or take, depending on a few other things as well. Early hybrids you’d be looking at ~35% losses after 5 years.

    And, the thing is, you have to cart around a battery that is physically three times as much as you would otherwise.

    Not really. The actual electrical power bit of the battery can be scaled up quite a lot without actually changing the size of the casing/electronics significantly. Only about 1/4 to 1/3 of the battery is actually cells. Or directly related to the number of cells.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    If that was the main reason, then all the other cars that have a better Cd (not size related) would look similar.

    Again, not trying to be argumentative.. BUT 🙂

    I think that the Prius was so mocked when it came out that other manufacturers couldn’t bring themselves to make a car like that. Except for Honda, who did. Twice, in fact.

    You’re right that Toyota almost certainly accepted that design to make a statement, so marketing is part of it, but the shape isn’t dreamed up on aesthetics.

    The Prius shape is the classic teardrop, but with the end truncated. There’s a principle the name of which I forget that says that if you truncate the teardrop design when the cross sectional area is half the maximum then the increase in drag caused by eddies is less than the extra drag you’d get from having the long tail – and that’s what it adheres to.

    Having an angle between the bonnet and boot is bound to create extra drag, I reckon.

    Audi A4 Saloon, couldn’t be more different from the Prius, and is the epitome of a normal looking car. But it has a better Cd than the Prius.

    But Audi are under pressure to make A4s continue to look like A4s. So if they flatened out the windscreen, tapered the back end in a bit, it would be even more aero still. But it woudl look like a Prius. They have probably saved drag by doing other things.

    nealglover
    Member

    So.

    As the Audi A4, the Tesla Model S, and Model X, at least two Mercedes Models and probably others, have a better Aerodynamic Profile (lower Cd) than the Prius. Despite being a totally different shape.

    Is this correct…..,

    Re the shape – that Prius shape is the ideal aerodynamic profile for a 4 seater car, or as close to it as they can get

    😛

    But Audi are under pressure to make A4s continue to look like A4s. So if they flatened out the windscreen, tapered the back end in a bit, it would be even more aero still. But it woudl look like a Prius. They have probably saved drag by doing other things.

    Except most manufacturers (dunno if audi have or not) have been doing this, changing things to be more aero. And their cars still have the same identity/look. Mainly as the actual profile isn’t what customers look at. They focus on the visual cues of grill/lights/bumper, or where the bonnet shut line is, or the shape/position of the doors/windows/coachlines. I’ve been involved in some intersting studies on this, how much different (how bad) a car can look just by getting the proportions of the headlights/grill slightly wrong.

    A prius looks like a prius because its got prius features and styling. An audi doesn’t. So it doesn’t look like a Prius.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    So.

    As the Audi A4, the Tesla Model S, and Model X, at least two Mercedes Models and probably others, have a better Aerodynamic Profile (lower Cd) than the Prius. Despite being a totally different shape.

    Is this correct

    You’re really not getting my point here.

    The Cd depends on more than just the shape.

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