During the current transition to electric mobility, some automakers have gone to some effort to ensure their EVs look completely distinct from their ICE models. But don’t expect that from Alfa Romeo. In a discussion with Top Gear, the Italian brand’s head of design, Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, pooh-poohed the idea that an automaker’s EVs need to take a different design path.
The former Renault, Seat and Cupra designer, now heading Alfa’s design department, said that that approach, meant to send a clear signal to consumers that such and such a new EV was something completely new, may have made sense when EVs were just appearing on the landscape, but no more. Now, he said, “everyone is, or will be, electric, so there is no need to say, ‘hey, hello, I’m electric, look at me’. There is no need to signify that you are electric.” In his view,
“Electrification changes the way the car moves, but the character, the style, the values will remain. Looking electric for the sake of it doesn't make sense from my point of view.”
- Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, Alfa Romeo head of design
Rather, the focus should be on making a meaningful statement with each new Alfa Romeo, whether electric or not. That statement needs to include a Wow factor, an aggressive, sporty message with character and the human aspect definite musts. He added that “I think something that would be horrible for Alfa would be if someone were to say, ‘OK, another car'. We have to take risks, we have to be daring.”
The executive acknowledged that the EV format demands certain adjustments resulting from aerodynamics requirements (to maximize range) and the opportunities afforded by the absence of a gas engine and a drivetrain. We can thus expect, for instance, new architectures, longer wheelbases, shorter overhangs and lower centres of gravity.
His instructions to Alfa designers? “Don’t be obsessed that it’s an electric car. It's a car with a different architecture, and that’s it. We still have to convey emotion, we still have to show the former values, everything that we like in design.”
Alfa Romeo is on track to introduce a first full-on EV in 2024, expected to be a small crossover that will sit in the lineup below the new Tonale compact SUV. It’s likely though that that new crossover will also be offered initially in a gas engine format as well. In 2025, the brand should launch its first BEV built on a dedicated EV platform, and by 2027 the plan is to be an EV-only brand, at least in major markets like China, Europe and North America.