The new 2014 all-electric Chevrolet Spark EV is not the most stylish ride, but one thing about its exterior design stuck out: The grilles under the headlights are fake.
Grilles bring air into the car, and are a key feature on cars with conventional internal combustion engines.
Although they’re less important on modern vehicles — especially on electric ones that do not use internal combustion engines — sizeable grilles have become a fundamental styling feature of cars, and a way for automakers to set themselves apart.
To keep the design language of the Spark in line with that trend, Chevy included several totally fake grilles along with a central, necessary one.
From a distance, they look like they’re made to allow air into the car. Up close, it’s clear they are made of rubber, and are totally useless.
This isn’t the only way EVs imitate conventional cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required that hybrid and electric vehicles play car-like sounds to alert the blind, visually impaired, other pedestrians, and cyclists to their approach.
When I mentioned that to my friend David, he asked if kids, in a possible future without internal combustion cars, would wonder why cars that could be silent sound the way they do.
If other automakers pick up on Chevy’s fake grille motif, they’ll be wondering what’s up with the totally useless patches of rubber under the headlights.
But Chevy is selling the electric Spark to customers in 2013, and those customers are accustomed to cars that have grilles and make noise. So that’s what they’ll get.
Here’s what the Spark’s “grille” looks like up close:
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