We recently spoke with the President and CEO of Brembo North America, Dan Sandberg, at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Among the topics of discussion was Brembo’s new podcast, Brembo Red, which recently hosted GM design chief Michael Simcoe. While on the show, Simcoe shared his opinion on the design of electric vehicles.
“In your philosophy, does an EV look different than the cars we’re driving now?” asked Sandberg.
“The biggest thing we’ve found is that the packaging – the way the architecture is put together – is quite different,” Simcoe replied. “Clearly, you have some things that you don’t have in an ICE vehicle, but you replace them with a very large battery.”
That’s the technical side of the equation. But what does the GM design chief think of the actual design?
The rise of electric cars results in “different proportions, but we don’t believe customers are really looking for vehicles that scream ‘I’m electric’ and therefore have a different appearance,” Simcoe stated. “Most of our customers tell us that we’ll buy an electric vehicle is if does everything that my gas-powered vehicle does, including in some ways the appearance,” he added.
Currently, The General’s only electric vehicle sold in North America is the Bolt EV. Though the Bolt looks like a “normal” vehicle, we’re not sure anyone would describe it as being overwhelmingly attractive. Meanwhile, GM’s most recent electric car – the Chevrolet Menlo EV for the Chinese market – is a bit more attractive. But, like the Bolt EV, it isn’t necessarily a looker. In that regard, GM design has its work cut out for it as it relates to future GM electric offerings, which will be vital as the automaker plans to launch at least 20 new electric vehicles by 2023.
The pressure on standout design of EVs is even more critical when considering that GM’s cross-town rival, the Ford Motor Company, just announced the Mustang Mach-E – a fully-electric crossover inspired by the Ford Mustang. Despite the use of the Mustang name causing all sorts of commotion among (some) purists, the new vehicle is quite attractive and seems to deliver a product many are interested in.
It’s worth noting that Simcoe also discussed various other intriguing topics during his time on the Brembo Red podcast, including his belief that the industry will eventually shift back to sedans, that larger wheels are in the future, and the intricacies of designing good-looking utility vehicles. The full podcast is available here.