What's the best electric vehicle for reinventing the wheel?
It's a brave new world of electric vehicles – so why do cars all look the same as before?
How foolish we must all feel now, looking back on the heady pre-electric days when concept cars promised an exciting new world of possibility. Modular machines that would mould themselves to our exciting lives, a radically reinvented automotive footprint. Perhaps even peace in our time.
What we’ve ended up with, of course, is an endless series of riffs on the same theme of bloated SUVs with combustion engine removed and masses of batteries shoved in wherever they fit in pursuit of headline range figures that nobody really needs in the grand scheme of things.
What we don’t see behind the scenes in the car industry is the great war that’s raging between the marketing and engineering departments. The marketing types are the ones who sell us a glorious vision of surfboarding and families that look happy when they leave the house. Glassy expensive houses in the city where every expensive designer sofa looks out on the driveway at the impossibly expensive car you really deserve.
Engineering deals with the grubby reality of day to day life – seats with a decent hip point so we can swing ourselves out of the car without straining too much, proper sized storage bins about the interior that slosh with the detritus of day to day life. Parking tickets, crisp wrappers and tissues. The sticky remains of a coffee you spilled eight months ago and have never got round to cleaning up.
But if there’s one company out there – fair play to it – that’s really challenged the received wisdom of the modern motor car then it is Tesla. Look no further than the latest version of the Model S for proof. The US carmaker has already done away with all of the things you would expect inside a car, ridding its interiors of such fripperies as buttons and the like, and instead gluing a massive touchscreen on a piece of plywood.
But now it has gone a symbolic step further and literally reinvented the wheel. It’s not even called a steering wheel anymore, this is a yoke, and it improves the driver’s life in many as-yet unspecified ways. It’s not change for change’s sake, because that would be silly, wouldn’t it. A bold reinvention that changes the very course of the car’s future direction.
You get the distinct feeling with Tesla that someone deep inside the bowels of the company will at some point have been tasked with the project of reinventing the actual wheels on the outside of the car, and came up with ideas that were too deranged even for the frat bro development teams that sign these things off.
Let’s not go totally crazy though – Teslas still look like cars. We remain a long way away from the promise of gigantic floating teardrops or elegant travelling boudoirs, but the gap between now and then will likely only be covered with baby steps. Or some sort of yoke.
Best EV for reinventing the wheel – Tesla Model S
Range: 405 miles
Engine: 661bhp twin e-motors
Top speed: 155mph
Boot space: 793 litres
Steering wheels: 0.5
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