If you were to go by designs showcased in Shanghai’s auto exhibition, future electric SUVs will sport ample floor space large enough to provide luxuries typically found in your living room.
Concepts electric vehicle (EV) cars on display in Shanghai’s autoshow this week, including ones from the Audi AI:me and Infiniti QX Inspiration, underscore aspirations that future EVs can provide for living-room-like comforts in vehicles that can house sofa-like bench seats.
Taking advantage of the space freed up by bulky internal combustion engine, cooling apparatus and complex transmission gears that were needed in legacy gasoline cars, designers have taken advantage of the fact that most batteries in EVs are laid out flat under the floor, thus allowing ample floor space for luxuries.
Both the AI:me urban car and Infiniti’s QX Inspiration SUV have flat floors, and sport interiors large enough to accommodate what looks like a sofa in the back as well as more leg room and storage.
According to Karim Habib, design chief for Nissan’s premium brand Infiniti, since there is no tunnel, which often houses the drive shaft and exhaust apparatus in traditional cars, the center of the rear seat “can become just as valuable” as the space on its sides.
This essentially points to the possibility of “a return of the bench seat” in the front and the rear – a throwback to American cars of a bygone era, said Habib.
The EV’s flat and slightly elevated floor allows passengers to slide into it, said Habib in reference to the QX Inspiration concept car. He went on to add, “You can kind of comfortably sit into it … You can cross your legs, stretch your legs out”.
Audi’s AI:me offers what the company’s China operations chief, Thomas Owsianski, described as “maximum space comfort” despite its smallish urban car profile.
“We are fundamentally changing the perception of a (urban) car, particularly car experience,” said Owsianski. “The AI:me has very compact dimensions but … it shows the urban mobility, especially premium mobility, doesn’t need to feel small. Cars are becoming a living room space.”