The Future of Electric Vehicles – A Fundamental Redesign Based Around Actual User Needs

Clayton Christensen says, “When we buy a product, we essentially hire something to get a job done”. So, what job does a vehicle do? Transport things from A to B. Different things, but regardless of the vehicle, the goal is the same – the question then is, how efficiently does the vehicle do that. For passenger cars, it could be determined by comfort, legroom, speed, enjoyment, range, or luggage space. For commercial vehicles, it could be loadspace, payload, or height of the load space.

Consumers have always had choice, which meant they could choose their compromises. With electric vehicles (EV’s) is that still the case?

The automotive industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, driven by the increasing demand for sustainable transportation solutions. Electric vehicles have become symbols of this transformation and offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. However, the current generation of electric vehicles is still designed based on ICE vehicle concepts, which ultimately limits their efficiency and performance. Therefore, there is a need for a fundamental rethink of electric vehicles, focusing on perfecting their performance and efficiency to meet the demands of consumers.

When consumers buy a vehicle, they hire it to perform a job, which is to transport them or their belongings from one place to another. This holds true for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Therefore, it is crucial to design vehicles that can fulfill this primary job while offering consumers their choice in compromises. Given that the current generation of electric vehicles is based on ICE concepts of power in the front (or back) and energy storage underneath, it means they are not fully optimized for electric power. They are limited by the space requirements of a combustion engine and transmission, negatively impacting passenger space, luggage space, and overall efficiency.

With the advent of new dedicated electric vehicle platforms, designers have a rare opportunity to reimagine what a car can offer.

At Protean, we believe that consumers deserve vehicles that don’t compromise on the basic functions of their job, such as luggage space, rear legroom, or load height. Unfortunately, most electric vehicles on the market today do not meet these requirements, and this is a significant barrier to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. If electric vehicles are to displace ICE vehicles, they must be at least as good as their ICE counterparts in terms of their primary job functions.

The redesign of electric vehicles should focus on perfecting the platform for electric power, rather than trying to fit electric power into an ICE vehicle platform. This approach would enable designers to create vehicles that have more spacious and comfortable interiors, larger luggage spaces, and higher load heights. By optimizing the platform for electric power, designers could also improve the vehicle’s performance and efficiency, making them more competitive with ICE vehicles in terms of range and acceleration.

An excellent example of a vehicle designed to minimise compromise and maximise the benefit of electrification is the NEVS Emily GT, powered by four ProteanDrive in-wheel motors.

The motors deliver combined 5,320 Nm of torque with 460 horsepower and the vehicle has space for a 175 kWh battery pack, while providing around 20% more interior space than an equivalent-sized combustion engine vehicle.

The vehicle can provide a driving range of over to 1000 km on a single charge, helped significantly by the optimised aerodynamics, which is achieved by designing a vehicle with a properly low roofline, allowed because with IWMs, the battery placement doesn’t lift the rear seats as happens in many EVs, reducing leg room, and more importantly forcing manufacturers to lift the roof to give adequate headroom which can reduce cruising range by up to 20%.

In conclusion, the electric vehicle revolution has grown out of conventional vehicle design, but the next phase of this revolution must focus on fundamental redesign. The current generation of electric vehicles is not fully optimized for electric power, and they fail to meet the basic job functions required by consumers. By reimagining what a car can offer, like the NEVS Emily GT, designers can create electric vehicles that are more spacious, efficient, comfortable and perform better, which will help to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and contribute to a more sustainable future.

If EVs are to displace ICE vehicles, isn’t it time we gave consumers new vehicles that are at least as good at their primary job as the ones being replaced?

Rik Adams,
VP Protean Power Solutions