Family cars could become smaller with the switch to electric vehicles

The BMW 520d Touring

The BMW 520d Touring

Family cars and SUVs could shrink as EVs become more widespread, experts have suggested.

The trend for ever-larger cars could be reversed by electric cars because they don’t require bulky internal combustion engines (ICEs), industry data says.

Phillipe Emanuel-Jean, head of concept cars and brands at Peugeot, suggested last week that family cars could shrink as EV batteries run low.

Speaking at the launch of Peugeot’s new Inception Concept, he told design magazine Dezeen that the removal of a motor could mean an electric car has the same amount of interior space as a larger vehicle, while reducing body size. car exterior.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Jerome Micheron, senior vice president of Peugeot Product, said: “In general, electric car architecture fully optimizes interior space for the vehicle’s external dimensions, such as the distribution of the car’s proportions between the engine/engine, passenger space and luggage space, compared to that of a dedicated ICE vehicle.

However, he said downsizing the car would be a challenge as vehicle batteries need to offer capacity and range, while remaining affordable.

The suggestion was echoed by other industry experts.

Professor David Bailey, from Birmingham Business School, told the Telegraph: ‘There is particular scope for downsizing to SUVs or crossovers, as this segment has driven recent growth in car sizes.

“There is no need to house a bulky internal combustion engine and the space can be configured to maximum effect, with the potential to reduce the overall size of the car.”

Research by Zuto Car Finance in 2019 found that many popular car brands have increased significantly since their first launch, some by more than 60%.

The Ford Mustang, the world’s best-selling sports car, was among the top growers with 63% more growth than its first version released in 1964. The modern Mini is 61% larger than its original, while the Range Rover is 43% larger than its 1981 version.

The increase in size was largely driven by regulatory mandates to include more passive safety features such as airbags and side, front, and rear impact structures.

EV batteries are stored in the front of the car like the motors, which means shorter overhangs up front and more space inside.

Speaking to technology magazine Wired, Maximillian Missoni, head of design at electric car company Polestar, said: “The size and position of the electric motors relative to combustion engines allows for shorter overhangs, more compact and sportier front volumes. and allow for more interior space within the same footprint.”

Peugeot’s Inception Concept includes a small front overhang, described by Emanuel-Jean as a “living room effect” in the vehicle compartment.

Micheron said EVs enabled “new methods of creativity,” and the Inception Concept showed how the new space could increase comfort.

Andrew Graves, an automotive industry veteran and professor at the University of Bath, said smaller cars have huge advantages in terms of parking, congestion, fuel economy, handling, road holding and improved braking, but said that there was little pressure from stakeholders to drive this change.

He was skeptical that car sizes would go down any time soon and said the current appetite of consumers, especially families, was for larger SUVs.

Short-term increased demand for hybrids would also ensure cars stay great, he said, adding, “Hybrid cars aren’t going to disappear, due to electric vehicles’ inherent inefficiency and range anxiety. They are heavier and have two drives, so they don’t get any smaller.

Britain will ban the sale of new cars that run only on petrol and diesel in seven years according to plans drawn up by Boris Johnson, the former prime minister.

New hybrids will still be allowed until 2035, at which point the UK will only allow fully electric cars and other zero-emission vehicles, such as those that burn hydrogen.

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