From its humble beginnings to entire cities planned around them, to the explosive catapulting of the toxic industries that profit off of these exquisite pieces of machinery; today we shall talk about cars. As the world grapples with climate change, these unassuming sheet metal clad devices have become the most serious point of contention and being the worst offenders, rightly so. 

Nevermind the fact that an electric propulsion car will never have the personality of an internal combustion engine, from its varied willingness to rev to its always unique, ever so soulful burble and bark. We reminisce about the old because in it lay the last embers of our hope. The living breathing, streetcar died a long time ago, smothered by pollution control laws, isolated and insulated from the road and drivers alike. 

The few that remain in production are out of reach of the ordinary. It’s safe to say then, that there is little point in emoting to save modern internal combustion, especially in a world that’s quite literally on fire. So treasure the past, but lighten your heavy hearts; it’s time we reinvent the car. 

Here are 10 such examples:

1. Toyota Prius

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©https://blog.toyota.co.uk

Yes, it’s an old car and the future by no means, but it’s earned its place in this discussion. Almost all modern EVs stand on their shoulders. This car was so ahead of its time, that it predated the modern lithium-ion battery. Using nickel metal halide batteries, it had extremely low battery power density by modern standards, and a petrol generator engine was required to pair with regen. braking to keep the batteries charged. 

The highlight of this car, therefore, was the incredibly efficient and simple all-electric transmission Toyota designed. The only thing that dwarfs it, is the cars near bulletproof reliability; a category in which unsurprisingly only other Toyotas trump it. 

2. Nissan Leaf

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©https://www.theverge.com

No, we’re not talking about the old models being pioneers, which they undeniably were. That’s only because the new model carries a metaphorically and empowering feature. You can power your house with this. There, think about that for a moment. If you own one of these, you have in addition to a car, a moving power station. 

What’s more, if you don’t particularly like your employer, you can charge your car up at work for free and practically siphon the power off to your home. I don’t necessarily condone such behavior, but you have to admit that the fact that it’s even possible is incredibly cool. 

3. Renault Twizy

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©https://www.carmagazine.co.uk

This plucky little thing is less of a car and more of a quad with a roof on it. It’s also a few years old at this point, but that doesn’t make it any less futuristic. No, I’m not talking about the space-age style, the scissor doors, or the fact that it looks like it’s straight out of a movie. 

You see the twizzy is small and electric which for the common folk, translates to easy to park and cheap to run. In our increasingly congested cities, the Twizy is an outright lifesaver. It’s frugal, yet cool; newsflash it’s for the millennials. 

4. Tesla Model 3 

©https://www.autoblog.com

Here’s what most of you came looking for. The accessible, but not quite, electric car for the alleged masses. Service issues and average quality control aside; this is a car that will undeniably do down in the history books; and so will the brand that made it and so will the man behind it all. There is so much that is owed to Tesla in today’s EV world. They took a huge risk and with one goal in mind, to make EVs palatable and desirable to the masses. 

This is what happens when a rocket scientist gathers a group of engineers and together they fight the oil industry to the ground. Yes, a lot of the electricity is generated by fossil fuels today, but that doesn’t negate the fact that this is a massive step in adapting to renewables. 

Tesla’s currently working on making more efficient lithium batteries, especially from a production standpoint. If successful, expect a significant reduction in prices. 

5. Toyota Mirai

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©https://www.motortrend.com

Perhaps by the only company chasing renewables down on two fronts, this is a car that is propelled entirely by hydrogen. To truly understand the value of this proposition, one needs to understand the nasty underbelly of lithium-ion battery production. You see lithium batteries have a reputation for being unstable but absolutely nobody talks about the number of mineral resources it consumes. A lot of which comes from unfair and unpaid labor practices from underdeveloped countries. 

The biggest offender of this is cobalt, over seventy percent of which comes from the DRC or the Dominican Republic of the Congo which on account of being unregulated commits vast amounts of human rights violations, often leading to death. 

Today’s overdependence on lithium-ion breeds monopoly which in a capitalist environment, leads to exploitation. Yes, cracking hydrogen only to recombine it, is far from energy-efficient, but with possible surplus renewable energy, it provides a much needed valid alternative for the streetcar. 

6. VW ID Buzz

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©https://www.autoblog.com

Resto. The VW bus is finally back, and this time it’s electric. The old car is probably the most beloved design in the industry, mainly because it stood for simplicity and freedom for the frugal. To many it wasn’t just a car, it was a home, a unique representation of the often profoundly lost self. 

The new car builds on the flexibility and adaptiveness of the old, serving a space first and a vehicle second. However, it’s not this, but the mere fact that it exists; which demarcates a turning point for the auto industry. 

7. Citroen Ami

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©https://www.autocar.co.uk

If the Twizy tackles the urban congestion head-on, this car plans to put it to rest. No, I’m not talking about the extreme affordability or the ingenious front to back and side to side symmetric interchangeable panels, but the fact that the 2CV is finally back! Well, in spirit that is. 

The car of the people is back, and it’s back because it’s not of the people as much as it is for them. You see, Citroen made this car squarely aimed at state-owned, shared use future vehicles. It’s easy to run, repair, and yes, clean. Citroen once again presents the future in a humble but stonkingly clever package. 

8. LEVC VN5 van

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©https://www.cnet.com

It’s the same company that makes the new hybrid London taxi. Only this time, it’s a van. Honestly, it’s staggering that the EV industry took so long to bring vans into production. One might say, that’s impractical because they run all day and have no time to charge. 

To that I say, they, therefore, cause an immense amount of pollution and they work in fleets, many of which cover much smaller neighborhoods. Also, they pack in a backup petrol generator. 

9. EV Restomod cars 

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©https://www.motoring.com.au

A category rather than a car, but nevertheless important. EV Restomodding is the practice of converting old car icons like the Porsche 911, the Austin mini, or the Mazda Miata from internal combustion to electric power. 

As growingly strict anti-pollution laws drive out petrol cars, this gives the old classics a new lease of life. They do still qualify as cars of the future, because to the dismay of some, they are essentially new vehicles from the ground up, shoehorned into the original chassis and body shell. The above image is that of an Alfa Romeo Giulia EV Restomod.

10. Tesla Roadster 

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©https://www.tesla.com

If there’s one place EVs are still to make headway, it’s with sports car enthusiasts. With ridiculously fast acceleration times and an open-top driving experience, Tesla intends to do exactly that. 

The car however stands for more than this. It stands as a benchmark, of how far EVs have gotten and fast they have dethroned their oil-powered counterparts. EVs are here to stay, and sooner or later they will conquer the car industry; companies like Tesla will make sure of it. 

Author

An architect that is in pursuit of achieving a responsive architecture user-interface by studying interdependent disciplines. A liberal, an academician, and a rarely funny person who believes that engaging in regular discourse can benefit today's architecture.

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