As OEMs try to reduce CO2 and transition to electric vehicles in the face of the high fines, we expect a profound impact on vehicle design.

Although OEMs in Europe are facing billions of euros worth of fines as stricter CO2 emission regulations come into effect next year, the acceleration towards electric and hybrid powertrains is resulting in new innovations in vehicle platform engineering to reduce energy consumption.

At Automotive from Ultima Media, we foresee big changes in vehicle design and engineering as manufacturers strive for CO2 savings, and especially as they move away from modified ICE platforms.

In our latest report, “Climate Change vs. Carmakers”, we forecast a significant shift towards vehicle electrification as carmakers try to meet the targets, which phase in during 2020 and 2021, and will tighten further over the next decade. According to Daniel Harrison, automotive analyst and author of the report, many carmakers in Europe have so far electrified their range by modifying existing models. The Volkswagen e-Golf, for example, is based on a standard Golf, using the MQB platform shared by a large range of petrol and diesel vehicles across the group. The electric Renault Zoe, likewise, is a modified version of the Clio.

However, Harrison points out that the new generation of electric vehicles will have platforms designed specifically for EV use, such as VW’s new MEB platform, with much greater design optimisation. The first vehicle to use the MEB is the VW ID.3 entry-level electric vehicle, launched at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show. Volkswagen will eventually use the platform across group EV models, including from Porsche, Audi, Skoda and Seat. Ford will also use the MEB to build electric vehicles for the European market as part of the two carmakers’ new alliance.

A platform designed for EVs allows for important engineering changes, such as more aerodynamic shapes to the bonnet and underbelly, as well as more flexibility in design and passenger features.

We anticipate a significant shift in design as OEMs attempt to reduce emissions in Europe, with impacts as well for other markets.

While few OEMs are unlikely to avoid fines from the new regulations, we foresee OEMs using the above as well as other design changes to achieve savings for ICEs and hybrids as well. For example, we expect a growing use of lightweight alterative materials such as polymers, composites and textiles, further substitutes for steel including not only aluminium but also titanium.

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