Electric cars have a new age and futuristic appeal that’s incredibly divisive amongst consumers. Yet, EVs are fighting years of tradition and design choices that consumers are still accustomed to. So, why don’t electric cars have grilles, and what’s their purpose?
Most electric cars don’t have front grilles because they are meant to cool down the internal engine and radiator, and EVs don’t have an internal combustion engine. Instead, EVs use smaller air slots and openings to cool their lithium-ion battery packs.
Although most EVs don’t have front grilles, their front fascia and design are crucial to their aesthetic. So, how do electric vehicle manufacturers and designers grapple with this? Read on for more information.
What is the Purpose of Car Grilles?
Typically, you’ll notice an opening on the front of a vehicle covered by metal. This is known as a grille. The grille allows air to flow through the engine compartment and helps cool the radiator and engine, ensuring nothing overheats. In addition, the metal covering prevents debris and objects from entering.
Car grilles can also be placed on other vehicle locations, such as below the front bumper or in front of the wheels. Grilles can also be used for aesthetically pleasing designs and brand recognition.
Why Electric Cars Do Not Have Grilles
Most electric cars will not have a front grille. Electric cars don’t necessarily need a front grille, as they lack an internal combustion engine that requires cooling. Front grilles can also cause a large amount of aerodynamic drag. And most EVs focus on efficiency, so they forego a large front grille.
Although most electric cars don’t need a large front grille and lack an internal combustion engine, they still need adequate cooling for their lithium-ion battery packs. So EV manufacturers have opted for smaller grilles and air slots instead.
Tesla has air slots at the bottom of its vehicles to circulate air to the battery. Other models use smaller air slots and grilles like the Nissan Leaf.
Redesigning Grilles for Electric Cars
The front grille is a standout design component that separates vehicles from one another. Vehicles are unlikely to do well with consumers without a distinctive or visually appealing front fascia, regardless of whether they’re electric.
Take BMW’s iconic twin-kidney front grille, for example. BMW has had different iterations and versions of the twin-kidney grille design since 1933, making it a signature design component for all of its models.
Or consider a widely disliked model like the Chevrolet SSR. The Chevrolet SSR has odd proportions and an equally disturbing front grille. The thick metal line cutting through the lights and top portion of the grille makes for a polarizing aesthetic.
So, how are electric vehicles redesigning the front grille and fascia?
Is More Design Freedom a Good Thing?
EV designers and manufacturers have more freedom when designing the front fascia of any given model. The designers have more liberty regarding light placement, spoilers, trim accessories, and more. The front fascia of electric vehicles can have more wedge-like or smooth designs.
However, EV designers don’t have an extended history of calling back to see what has and hasn’t worked. As a result, there aren’t any traditional guidelines for creating the front fascia of an electric vehicle. Without proven design techniques, it’s easier to develop ugly aesthetics and proportions.
Take the 2010 Nissan Leaf, for example. Although the 2010 Nissan Leaf won several EV awards and has entered the second generation of best-selling vehicles, the initial design wasn’t doing it any favors. The ultra-smooth fascia paired with large headlights creates an unappealing aesthetic for most consumers.
Some EV manufacturers utilize front grilles, regardless if they serve a functional purpose. For example, the Audi e-Tron has a small, partially closed front grille. This design choice is safe, combining the familiar with the new.
Other EV models try to make their front fascia as distinct as possible. For example, some manufacturers and designers will create an entirely smooth front that can be highly divisive for most consumers. Other electric vehicles will opt for more lights, trims, and accessories instead of mesh openings.
Either way, the electric vehicle market is still in its infancy. EV manufacturers and designers are fighting tradition and creating a whole new market for automobiles. The industry will balance good and bad design choices as time goes on, combining the old with the new.
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Thursday 18th of August 2022
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