Electric vehicles are storming the market at this point, as legacy and startup manufacturers buy into an impending electric future. And this has changed the way electric vehicles are designed. EVs used to be seen as futuristic and were designed in ways to distinguish themselves apart from their traditional internal-combustion counterparts.
While not all EVs look alike, they all share one common trait: efficiency. When we spoke earlier this year with Ralph Gilles, Head of Design at Stellantis, he emphasized that the packaging of an EV is truly different than an ICE car. Naturally, this has affected the way EVs roll off the assembly line, but it's also allowed designers like Gilles to work with aerodynamics more extensively.
These days, EV design is all over the place, from classic roadster silhouettes to blurred lines between sedans, station wagons, crossovers, and hatchbacks. And every manufacturer's approach is different, as they hope to sway long-time ICE buyers with enduring designs that will drive the marketplace for years to come. Here are our eight favorite EV concepts from 2022, that we hope will roll out of production facilities soon enough.
Hyundai has continued to raise the bar in terms of automotive design, especially when it comes to EVs. Earlier this year, Hyundai teased us with two EV concepts, the N Vision 74 and the RN22e. The latter is a tuned version of the company's new Ioniq 6 streamliner, set to be an addition to Hyundai's performance-focused N-line.
Built on the E-GMP platform, the RN22e concept offers 576 hp and 545 lb-ft of torque, fed to all four wheels through an e-LSD. A 77.4-kWh battery is the power source, adding mass that will be slowed by four-piston monoblock calipers for performance-oriented regenerative braking at all four corners. Track-specific brake and torque-vectoring modes are included.
The concept car's exterior styling is also tuned for aerodynamics, as 3D-printed parts are used to reduce weight and focus on rigidity. A specific N-branded sound system allows for a variety of drivetrain noises to be funneled into the cabin. Hyundai has yet to say when we will see this tuner-style EV, but it could follow the initial production run of Ioniq 6 units in 2023.
Audi is holding its cards close to the chest with this EV concept, known as the ActiveSphere, which is set to be unveiled in early 2023. Potentially serving as a spiritual successor to the Allroad, the concept's shadowed look reveals very little, but we can see a set of knobby tires and huge wheels. Following the trend of super-sizing coupes, this concept appears to be in line.
Audi has also confirmed this model will be capable of autonomous driving, as will the other three EV concepts that Audi plans to release in the coming years. The company has already come out with a number of all-electric e-trons, but this model sets a precedent for Audi's creative EV endeavors, while carrying over some of the sleek styling cues of it A7 models.
As Audi focuses on the luxury experience, its EV developments will be important in creating a sound-proof cabin. Additionally, Audi's current e-trons allow for three stages of regenerative braking, meaning owners can tailor the drivetrain experience to their liking. In the case of the ActiveSphere—should it enter production—it seems like the optimal setting will be aggressive.
Polestar is an oddball company, having broken off from Volvo to produce all-electric models exclusively. The brand has cemented itself as an alternative EV option in a world of Teslas, with the Polestar 2 sedan already in production and the Polestar 3 incoming. This past summer, the company showed off its distant future during Monterey Car Week, revealing the Polestar 6 roadster.
EV convertibles are a rarity in the marketplace, and Polestar wants to change that. Taking the Tesla Roadster model head-on, Polestar says it will release this convertible for production by 2026. With 884 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque, the dual-motor roadster will share its 800-volt architecture with the upcoming Polestar 5 super sedan. The drivetrain will be all-wheel drive, though Polestar says its electric motors will bias power delivery toward the rear.
Achieving 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds is no small feat, and Polestar says you can ride that power wave all the way up to 150 mph. The first 500 units will be a special Polestar 6 LA Concept edition, with a sky blue exterior, light leather interior, and the original O2 concept 21-inch wheels. Our only wish is that we could drive the roadster sooner.
We may not get Renaults on this side of the Atlantic, but we sure like them. And Renault continues to ramp up its present-day operations, releasing the Scenic Vision concept earlier this year. Technically, the model is powered by a hydrogen/electric blend, but we decided to include it given Renault's promises.
Specifically, Renault says it will achieve 500 miles of range out of the Scenic Vision's 40-kWh battery and 16-kW hydrogen fuel cell. The wheels will be driven by a 160-kW electrically excited synchronous motor, with power headed to the front wheels. The company has yet to announce power figures, but we imagine the numbers will make this model an EV hot hatch.
The French company claims the Scenic Vision will be made with 70% recycled materials, while more than 95% of the vehicle will be recyclable. Specifically, the materials used include milk bottles, plastic pipes, and recycled polyester. Using these materials suggests the car will have a 75% smaller carbon footprint, in theory.
If Hyundai's design strategy is hip and trendy, its Genesis luxury brand is classically smooth. After releasing the electrified G80, the company is continuing to up its EV game. Jumping into the same pool as Polestar and Tesla, Genesis wants to produce its own electric roadster, and an opulent one at that.
Enter the Genesis X. With a long hood and space-age, deep-dish wheels, the model is set to compete with Germany's best performance convertibles, not the sporty roadsters that Tesla and Polestar have promised. Details about its powertrain have yet to be released, but it's likely to be a high-horsepower luxury cruiser.
Luc Donckerwolke, the brand’s Belgium-bred head of design, said the model's two main design principles are athleticism and sportiness. It's unclear what this means exactly, but it will have a retractable folding hardtop with integrated transparent moonroofs above each front occupant. Open-air driving galore.
This downright cool-looking EV concept takes a page from manufacturers like Hyundai and Kia in its wide-hipped, hot-hatch stance. Known as the Chrysler Airflow, Stellantis has been teasing this car since 2021, but it wasn't until this year that we got more details. The nameplate is a revamped version from the 1930s when Chrysler wanted to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of previously brutish models.
Now, aerodynamics are even more important in the EV world. The Airflow is expected to have a set of 201-hp electric motors driving it. Power will be fed to these motors through a battery system that Stellantis says will take you up to 400 miles.
The interior of the Airflow concept is stunning on its own, even if it skews toward the futuristic side. Certain Airflow exterior design cues carry over inside, where the interior has an open feel and without a traditional instrument cluster. Chrysler is promising to launch production of its first EV by 2025, but the automaker is coy in declining to identify whether that vehicle will be based on the Airflow. Another Stellantis brand, Dodge, plans to launch a production version of its Charger Daytona SRT EV concept as soon as 2024.
Of all the EVs covered here, the Mercedes EQXX could be the best looking. With one continuous line from the front fender through the rear tail lights, it's as sleek as they come, and with the electric technology to boot. A drag coefficient of .17 and 626 miles of range should be enough to entice even the most adamant ICE purists, right?
Executive Editor Tom Murphy went to Germany to find out, writing, "Perhaps most remarkable about this EQXX experiment is that the car isn’t running on next-generation supercapacitors or solid-state batteries but instead on an optimized lithium-ion architecture rated at 920 volts." Indeed, the drivetrain of the EQXX is fascinating, with its 100-kWh battery pack generating 241 hp and running at 7.5 miles on each kWh of electricity during one test.
After logging a test run of 747 miles straight across Europe, the team at Mercedes seems focused on making an EV that is, well, not boring. The look is certainly there, as is a more prudent approach to the range and weight savings, thanks to its F1-developed drivetrain and chassis as well as the no-costs-cut exterior design. Ultimately, it'll come down to how much all this technology would cost real consumers. Until then, we'll keep staring at the EQXX.
The joint EV venture between Toyota and Subaru—that yielded the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra—has had a rocky start. After a model-wide recall pertaining to wheel hubs, the models are finally back on the road and for sale at dealerships across the US. It remains to be seen if trust in the models has been shaken, but Toyota is determined to expand its EV crossover offerings, even if the automaker has been slow to engage.
That's why the handsome, angular BZ concept that Toyota showed during the LA Auto Show is a step in the right direction. Toyota is keeping information about the new BZ concept tightly sealed, but it's likely this model will be built on the BEV-dedicated e-TNGA platform. Power and range figures were not disclosed, but the company did say the focus of this new model is sleekness. Aerodynamics play a significant factor in the range of an EV, and Toyota wants to address that head-on with its design.