After telling Auto Express the proliferation of electric vehicles will gradually put an end to conventionally shaped SUVs, Citroën CEO Vincent Cobée spoke with Autocar about what might happen in the "post-SUV world." He thinks automakers will have no other way but to design cars with lower rooflines and slippery bodies to improve efficiency. Ideally, shaving off weight would also help extract more range from EVs, but that's easier said than done.
Using aluminum instead of steel would increase manufacturing costs that would then be inevitably reflected in the vehicle's final price tag. Since automakers are looking to avoid higher costs, they're trying to look for other ways to boost an EV's range. Cobée emphasized the growing importance of a more aerodynamic design since tall and boxy bodies hurt efficiency.
Citroën's top brass projects that regulators will also put the brakes on the SUV boom by limiting incentives only to electric vehicles that weigh under a certain threshold. Consequently, Cobée thinks car manufacturers will sooner or later have to engineer smaller EVs. Making aluminum-bodied SUVs for mass markets is not feasible due to prohibitive costs, so more compact vehicles with sleeker shapes are the way to go in the electric era.
The French businessman went on to point out that the Oli concept unveiled last year could be a solution. It's been developed with a target weight of just 1,000 kg (2,204 pounds) and a decent range of 400 kilometers (249 miles) from a 40-kWh battery pack. It had a low environmental impact by heavily relying on recycled materials. For example, the roof, truck bed, and hood were made from recycled corrugated cardboard sandwiched between fiberglass panels.
To achieve the low weight, the company with the double chevron logo took out the sound system and replaced it with removable Bluetooth speakers. In addition, the front seats used 80 percent fewer parts than the seats in an equivalent SUV while the wheels were a combination of aluminum and steel to further cut weight.
The Oli was an exercise in simplicity taken to the extreme. Cobée believes automakers and regulators must reach a "common ground" on the road to achieving carbon neutrality.