Autoline Calls Out Euro Automakers For Bad EV Styling


We don’t need no stinkin’ grills

John McElroy has been a car enthusiast and an automotive journalist for a good number of years now. It’s pretty fair to say he knows a thing or two about cars and their history. In this latest edition of Ask Autoline, a show where he talks about an issue in the industry and then fields questions from the YouTube live chat, the topic revolves around electric vehicle styling. The title of the episode states his position succinctly: “Why The Europeans Blew It with Electric Cars.”

McElroy takes the first eight minutes to lay out the case that the European automakers have, for the most part, stuck with more traditional designs for their upcoming electric vehicles, instead of taking a more forward-looking approach. This, he says, will cause them to look dated in the next few years. The biggest styling issue, and one that’s probably most obvious to observers, centers on the grill. He specifically calls out the Audi e-tron, the Mercedes EQC, and the Jaguar I-Pace.

One design he does like belongs to the BMW iNext concept, despite his comparison of its grill to “the nostrils on a snapping turtle.”  He also is rather fond of the Porsche Taycan, but then, who isn’t? Interestingly, other electric vehicle designs he does like are from startup companies: the Lucid Air and the Faraday Future FF91. He also likes what Tesla has done with its designs.

Though the premise of the show is EV design, when the questions start coming in, they tend to wander all over the electric vehicle space, so it’s an interesting watch. McElroy’s roots are decidedly in traditional automobiles, but he’s been doing his EV homework and provides some thoughtful answers. Enjoy!

Source: YouTube

Categories: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Tesla, Videos

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43 Comments on "Autoline Calls Out Euro Automakers For Bad EV Styling"

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I find no-grille design weirdo, not my cup of tea, I like Big Badass ones.No grilles are for eunuchs 😉 .There are quite a bit of air exchanger behind theses grilles to cool down these batteries.

To me Teslas look like shit

LMAO, hundreds of thousands of paying customers and reservees disagree with you and most non Tesla-haters agree that Tesla vehicles are much better looking then other EVs.

I take an E-Tron over the Toyota looking S any day, X looks like a giant computer mouse, M looks a like a weird toy

Ok Geezer – still have your horse cart in the back shed?

Model S is one of the best looking car on the market today.

Model X is ugly and your mentioning of giant computer mouse is funny and now stuck with me.

Model 3 looks good on the side but ugly on the front and rear. It looks like a scaled down version of the Model X due to its height to length ratio.

People buy ugly cars all the day. So, reservation has nothing to do with it.

Yes, I agree that Model S is one of the best looking car on the road today, EV or not.

But I think Model X is ugly and Model 3 isn’t the best looking car either.

Then you should buy a big, gaping-mouthed Lexus.

More likely he already has and denigrating Tesla makes him feel better about this.

Need a Big Badass car for self confidence?

Demand for ev in Europe is huge despite John’s rather dated view of the charging infrastructure there. Also the implication that new evs will be out a date in a few years means ice cars are even further behind. In addition no mention of Tesla’s OTA updates. Are 2 years old Tesla’s really out of the loop, it’s true that older Tesla’s have not participated in the hardware updates, but even 8 year old Tesla’s still look pretty good, and people hold onto their Tesla’s a long time, or they sell them and buy another one. Point being a lot of his views of evs and where they are going are behind the times. Battery “pack” costs at 125-130/kWh still in 10 years, no way. No solid state mass production until 2030, also, no way. By 2025 is my guess. John, talk to better experts. The grilles are just a sideshow, the real question is how good are the electric cars Europe is coming out with. Not that good really. Level II installed cost me $500 bucks, not 1k, not 2k.. Plenty of SC and more charging options coming. Also his cost parity prediction is off by about 5 years… Read more »

I think he’s right on SS Batteries for volume EVs. 2025 is too soon. 2030 seems more realistic.

That could very well be true, though on the other hand there are who say it will come much sooner.
I’m in that camp.

I hope you are aware that the only 8 year old Teslas are of the original Roadster variety?…

McElroy is a shill for Detroit. I wouldn’t expect him to say anything different, and he certainly stops short of demanding more EV tech from any manufacturer, German or American. McElroy is not with the times.

A bit harsh imho. He’s just old fashioned but well meaning. He does try to be fair and objective within his slowly evolving norms I think:

ICE is antiquated crap. Most of the energy goes to boiling water. They have a huge radiator of boiling water up front the whole time it is running. They put big angry grilles on there, and pretend it is a feature instead of a flaw. Grow up people!

+ 1000

You don’t realize it until you drive an EV. Then all of a sudden a starter motor sounds so 1901.

Actually, most of the engine heat are lost in the exhaust and thru the radiation on the engine block.

That is why in Nascar racing, you only need an opening as small as 8 inches in diameter.

Typically it’s about 30% of the energy of the fuel that is lost through the radiator.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

EV enthusiasts see the big grille as a sign of engineering failure, but to most people a big grille means big engine means big power.

Over time, I think the cultural association will fade.

Can’t have a car-b-que without a grill.

Meanwhile, let’s talk about what really matters: unit sales. If Mercedes Benz and others are deliberately wielding the ugly stick and creating weirdmobiles, they are signaling to the world they want limited demand. If, on the other hand, VW, Smart and Mini are at least prototyping cars that are handsome, well, then that’s the right direction.
The iPace is a *Pace car, they are building it as a powertrain variant, much like the eGolf and the Ford Focus Electric when it was made. The iPace is the only one of its kind that stands out as having been thoughtfully engineered, not a hasty, bolt-on strategy.

Hey, Detroit, where’s the all-electric Camaro?

Do Not Read Between The Lines

When I see a Camaro I wonder if a designer did it as a parody of the muscle car “aesthetic”.

What a dumb article. People are free to choose the car whose styling they prefer. The market will sort itself out.

We know that, and they know that. That’s the point.
If they design EV’s as ugly, shareholders should be very concerned.

I’m just hoping BMW doesn’t commit EV suicide with those ugly “grills”.

Yeah, well said. The world only needs faceless cars which all look the same


I already hate how stupid cars look today with massive grills they don’t need (looking at you Honda Civic!!! – and every muscle car). Jalopnik featured a story some years back showing what cars would look like with grills only as big as they need. While the cheap photoshop jobs could have used some styling instead of rectangular slots, overall I thought the cars looked significantly more elegant. Carrying this overcompensating grill fetish over to EVs only compounds the stupidity because in general EVs need even less cooling capacity. Use function to drive style, don’t fake function for the sake of style.

Many fans of these “stupid cars” love the massively unneeded grills. Don’t forget the massively unneeded dual/quad exhausts. Some have catbacks that split the exhaust into more pipes.

The fans believe these grills and exhausts convey a tough guy look.
I personally think Dodge is the biggest believer in this.

The Honda Civic actually has quite a small grille.

I like grills too, and the new BMWs seem to be taking the grill size too the extreme.
I know grills had a purpose no longer (full) required, but too much painted uniform area, looks blend to me, even on the rear end.
Model 3 looks are so so, but a SUV with a taller front would look terrible to my eyes – like some renders of model Y. Still the font of the model 3 is by far the ugliest angle for me.

(I’m from Europe)

Another Euro point of view

Actually I agree. I think the problem is also that they are looking too much at each other, Audi is looking at BMW, BMW is looking at Mercedes etc. So that form of “inbreeding” tends to make look alike/not so attractive products, a bit like with humans…A BMW 3 series is very much like a Audi A4. A BMW X3 is very much like a Audi Q5. The Problem is that, at least for me, I do not get excited by their products, lacks freshness.

They all should be looking at Porsche and Tesla, not each other.

Or, it’s a corporate conspiracy between Audi, BMW and MB.
Make ugly EV’s to save the ICE line.

I knew that after tightening my tin foil hat, this was going to be another LICE OEM “corporate conspiracy”!

This is where fugly, and the George Foreman grill, can’t seem to get out of, or off of, Da Hood!

Props to 50 Cent, (In Da Hood)
“Got that Benz and that Hummer off the showroom floor…”


Porsche design is based on rear engine no grill cars since inception so their car design translates perfectly to EVs without a grill.

First point, most of these EV’s are multi platform, so they will need to have either the EV, ICE or hybrid power train. The fake grill is there because what else do you do with that space?
Second point, John says the fake grill will not take anything away from range and efficiency, and while I will agree with that in city driving, you can clearly see the massive Model X with 75kWh battery is killing the much smaller opposition (some with 95kWh battery) that gets less range. Clearly design makes a huge difference.
The comment about BMW i3 and carbon fibre also shows that weight is not the main factor like people thought. Design trumps weight in the EV stakes. No need to build an expensive carbon fibre frame when it goes basically the same distance as the non carbon fibre frame. And if you want evidence of this, just compare the 30kWh battery vehicles and you quickly see they all go within 5mi EPA range of each other.

Such a silly discussion…

There is a legitimate need for an air intake grill for the a/c condensers and other cooling functions. Even the Model 3 has one, although implemented more discretely in the lower facia.

The opportunity exists to make all kinds of styling variations, big or small (yes, plenty are far too big and ugly), but simply saying they are obsolete is a bit obtuse.

Besides, there is a practical argument for some kind of styled “grill” or trim piece since a flat painted panel up front is a magnet for stone chips and bug spatter.

The size of the “grill” has little to do with the cooling requirement of the engine or motor, be it ICE or EV. Notice that a C6 or C7 Corvette has about the same size grill opening as the TM3 and they have about the same horsepower. It’s all about style and packaging.

Nobody liked the Tesla 3 front end when it was introduced. Nobody really likes it now either, and it still sells out. Of course a Mercedes will look dated. Mercedes has been around for over 100 years. Don’t worry, it’ll be around for 100 more.

I want my car to look like a car, not something where a toaster and an egg had sex and there came some weird…. faceless eggdome that doesn’t even remotely look like a car

That gut is totally wrong. Tatra V570 & 77 from europe in the same decade much more advanced than that Ford. What is so bad about maintaining the history and the unique feature to distinguish brand from one to another, that is where the grill comes into play – by the way Porsche never had a grill. Porsche do not need one. But Tesla on the other hand introduced the little T like air scoop on the nose with the X and first facelift og S please me reference. What is not to like about a grill?

I’ve been struck by all the unsolicited compliments I continue to get on the looks of my Model 3 (red with aeros) from all types of people. I never expected that as the looks are fine, but not my favorite feature of the car.

I think Audi and MB made their EVs look very much like the ICE model so most of the general public won’t know the difference out on the road, and the result being less demand for the EV version of the ICE car. Especially since at least Audi doesn’t plan on having their EV available at the dealership, but special order only.