An electric car’s facelift is more than just a nip and tuck

The typical new car model has a life cycle of seven years.

The design team put their all into the latest incarnation of their car as it tries to compete against it’s rivals.  The new design brings the latest technology, weight saving and aerodynamic learning and combines it with what is deemed fashionable and modern for the day.

This new car will be showcased at a glossy Motorshow where the technology and ‘cutting-edge’ design will be applauded by the surrounding press as the Boss’ cross their fingers the car will be a sales success.

Fast-forward 3 to 4 years and rivals have released their new cars.  What looked fabulous under the bright lights of the Geneva show is now beginning to a look a little dated.  So what do you do….. you give the car a mid-life facelift.

Traditionally such a facelift is a mere nip and tuck.  Anything plastic can easily be changed, metal body parts are expensive to swap as this will require retooling back in the factory.  Most likely new bumpers, headlights and tail lights will be fitted.  Perhaps new colours will be introduced along with a new alloy wheel design and updated interior.

If emissions regulations have been updated this might be the time to introduce a new engine.  This could mean you comply before your rivals do, thus enabling you to snatch a chunk of the much needed fleet market.

When it’s time to face-lift the current batch of all-electric cars, manufacturers have a something a little extra up their sleeves – range.

Adding range via a new motor, larger batteries or aerodynamic tweaks fundamentally changes the car and opens it up to a larger buying audience, this is something a traditional petrol or diesel car simply cannot do.

The distance one can travel is not an issue in a petrol or diesel car, for some it is in an electric car and this puts them off from buying.  Adding more miles to the range means more will consider buying.

Tesla provide software updates direct to the car introducing new tools such as auto-pilot and parking aids. Yes, Tesla did recently tweak the nose of the Model S giving it the Tesla family face, but whilst tweaking it gained even greater range.

Recently Nissan added 25% extra battery capacity to their LEAF.  Externally the car has not changed, although it is now available in brown (sorry Bronze).

BMW are set to announce a 50% increase in battery capacity for the i3 with other changes expected to be limited to colour choices.

For buyers concerned about range – a BMW i3 that goes 50% further is a totally different BMW i3 that appeals to many more buyers, taking it from a what some consider a city car to an everyday car.  Can a petrol car open the door to new buyers with new headlights?
Are we entering an era where the public just want a better, greener, safer form of mobility?

After all a face-lifted Golf is still a Golf.

The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.