Detroit auto show: New ideas on portal design

Automakers have us wondering lately what in the world their designers might do with the front ends and hoods of vehicles once engine compartments are rendered obsolete by EV batteries. But that’s a styling challenge for the future.

At last week’s Detroit auto show, we were struck by a more immediate design changewith vehicle portals. Doors and rear hatches are suddenly showing new expressiveness, for no particular reason. Those simple old rectangles of the past — perfunctory vertical passageways in and out of cars and trucks — appear to be a new object of loving attention among stylists and concept artists, brand strategists and mobility disruptors.

Is it in any way related to the shift to EVs? Doesn’t seem to be. What it really looks like is just good old-fashioned artistic expression. It’s what those people are paid to do.

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