The next decade of car design is
set to be the most revolutionary
and disruptive since the vehicle
was invented. While the internal
combustion engine (ICE) may
have ruled the industry for more
than a century, the world is targeting a future
free from the CO2 emissions associated with
fossil fuels. Governments are setting tougher
emissions targets, while cities such as Paris,
Madrid, and Rome plan to ban diesel and
petrol-powered vehicles in the near future.
And who wants the “best” car in the world
if you can’t pull up outside the Four Seasons
George V in Paris?
For luxury car makers, this future poses
a quandary. Decades of heritage and
experience center around the undeniably
evocative qualities of the traditional engine.
It is a quantifiable demonstration of
engineering ability, prestige, and prowess.
Then there are the associations with
performance, racing, refinement, and skills
that have been honed over generations.
And so the likes of Jaguar, Bentley, and Aston
Martin are quite literally having to reinvent the
wheel, or at least the engine. The driver of
tomorrow needs either a hybrid electric vehicle
(HEV), one that combines a conventional
internal combustion engine system with an
electric propulsion system, or an all-electric
model (EV) with zero emissions. But being
green isn’t enough—hybrid and electric cars
need to look good and perform well, too.
Tesla is the pioneer here, its range of
EVs combine conservative styling with
far from conservative performance. Tech
pioneers swapped en masse to the brand,
buying into its Silicon Valley backstory and
disruptive positioning. The gauntlet was
thrown down for an array of EV sports cars
from other brands that are set to redefine
the hypercar experience, tapping into the
burgeoning market for $1m-plus cars that
exist as part investment, part indulgence,
and that are as functional as they are fabulous.
The idea of a sub-150-mile (241 km) range
will be all but forgotten as 300–400 miles
(483–644 km) becomes mainstream,
alongside 15-minute charge times.
Events like the Pebble Beach Concours
d’Elegance (see page 55) are the true stomping
ground of these rarefied machines. Some,
such as the all-electric Pininfarina Battista
and Porsche Taycan, made their North
American debut there.
And what of the luxury hybrid vehicles?
Bentley’s Bentayga hybrid is leading the
charge, alongside new models from Mercedes
and Range Rover. Aston Martin is designing
a hybrid set to be the most powerful in the
marque’s range, while Lamborghini and
Ferrari are poised with entrants that are
spectacular in both style and performance.
By 2025, this market will once again look
very different. Battery technology will
continue to advance although even hybrids
are being threatened by new legislation.
Behind the scenes, plans are in place to cater
for these changes; Bentley has promised to
have its first all-electric model in production
by mid-decade, a time when Aston Martin
also hopes to finally have its all-electric
Lagonda sub-brand up and running. Rolls-
Royce will inevitably have ironed out the
perceived flaws in electric propulsion, having
unsuccessfully tested the waters with its
Phantom 102EX almost a decade ago,
and have a peerless EV variant on sale.
Customers will clearly have plenty of choice,
but will buyer mentality shift as fast as the
market? Companies such as Lunaz Design
are promising the best of both worlds,
transplanting electric powertrains into
venerable classics—Rolls-Royces and Jaguars
among them—giving them new life. Aston
Martin and Jaguar are also exploring the
potential of such a service as a factory option.
Faster charging stations are on the way,
as everyone else plays catch-up with Tesla’s
Supercharger network. The new Ionity
network, backed by Volkswagen Group,
Ford, BMW, and Daimler, is aiming for 400
Europe-wide 350-kW stations by year end;
in practice, that means charging from near
empty to 80 percent capacity in just over
20 minutes in a compatible car such as the
Taycan. Technology has evolved. The soul
of the machine is gradually following.
Here are six cars that point the way to
a very different future for motoring.