Occasionally, utilizing the appeal of “retro” can prove to be a compelling marketing strategy for promoting electric cars and boosting sales
Despite gaining popularity in recent years, electric cars still struggle to win over the majority of drivers. This is partly due to the challenges of high costs, limited driving range, lack of charging infrastructure, and insufficient incentives to purchase. It’s understandable why these factors make it difficult for electric cars to gain widespread acceptance.
Unfortunately, electric cars often face the negative perception of being dull and unexciting vehicles. However, this is a misguided notion as those who have never experienced the acceleration of an electric car may not know the thrill they provide. Nevertheless, it’s a label that automakers must combat in order to overcome this stigma.
One potential solution to combat the negative perception of electric cars is to draw inspiration from the past. By revisiting iconic models from earlier eras with distinctive and recognizable designs, automakers can evoke positive emotions and nostalgia in consumers, ultimately putting a smile on their faces.
A prime example of this trend is evident in the Peugeot e-LEGEND, an electric prototype unveiled in 2018, which drew inspiration from the beloved Pininfarina Peugeot 504 Coupé. The e-LEGEND received widespread acclaim from the public, with over 60,000 people signing a Change.org petition requesting the vehicle to be put into production.
As such, the following list aims to showcase 10 electric cars, either currently available or set to launch in the near future, that draw inspiration from the past and embody a clear vintage aesthetic. After all, sometimes, the best source of inspiration can be found in the annals of history.
1. MINI Cooper SE
MINI, as part of the BMW Group, has cemented its reputation for evoking retro vibes in its vehicle designs. True to form, their electric compact car offering is no exception. Featuring a 184 horsepower engine and available only in a three-door body style (with the exception of a one-off Cabrio model), this vehicle boasts an approved driving range of up to 233 kilometers in the WLTP cycle.
2. Hyundai IONIQ 5
For the IONIQ line of electric vehicles from the South Korean automaker, Hyundai, both the exterior and interior design are integral components of their appeal. The recently introduced IONIQ 6 is a prime example of this. However, it was the IONIQ 5 that first turned heads with its striking “seventies” aesthetic, inspired by the original Hyundai Pony, when it was unveiled as a prototype in 2019 under the name Hyundai 45 EV Concept. Boasting an impressive power range of 170 to 325 horsepower, the IONIQ 5 also delivers impressive driving range, with figures of up to 507 kilometers.
3. Honda e
Drawing inspiration from the 1970s, Honda sought to create a distinctly vintage look for its first next-generation electric vehicle, the Honda e, which debuted as a production model in 2019. With a design reminiscent of the Civics of the 70s, the Honda e’s vintage aesthetic is a key selling point for the urban vehicle, which features virtual mirrors, power ranging from 136 to 154 horsepower, and an impressive driving range of up to 222 kilometers.
4. Fiat 500e
The second generation of the modern era Fiat 500, available exclusively as an electric model, has not strayed from the key to its predecessor’s success: a vintage design that is both timeless and instantly recognizable, inspired by the 1957 500. Fiat’s designers have once again managed to reinvent the image of the model while remaining faithful to the original design, resulting in a three-door urban vehicle with power ranging from 95 to 118 horsepower and an impressive driving range of up to 320 kilometers.
5. VW ID. buzz
As Volkswagen’s iconic van and minivan move towards a fully electric future, the model that started it all, the Volkswagen T1, has been front and center in their design process. The result is a new model with a design that combines vintage and futuristic elements (typical of the VW ID family). This electric vehicle is available in both passenger and commercial versions, with a 204 horsepower motor and an impressive driving range of up to 418 kilometers.
6. Citroen e-Mehari
We wanted to highlight a unique and interesting creation, even though it’s no longer available for purchase. It was an electric car that embraced the retro trend and was one of the pioneers in doing so. Although not produced by Citroën but by Bolloré, it was named after the highly sought-after classic model, the Mehari. It offered 68 horsepower and a range of around 200 km, suitable for urban use.
7. Microlino 2.0
Without a doubt, the Microlino could be easily described as the 21st century version of the Isetta, as its resemblance to the classic model is unmistakable, although its design and technology have been modernized. The Microlino is equipped with a 12.5 kW (17 HP) electric motor, provides a range of up to 230 kilometers (depending on the version), and has a luggage compartment with a capacity of 230 liters. According to the manufacturer, it has already received more than 30,000 orders.
8. Renault 5 Prototype
Moving from current models to upcoming ones, we have the highly anticipated electric Renault 5, which is set to revive the spirit of the iconic urban car that was launched back in 1972. Official information about the new vehicle is scarce, but rumors suggest that it will feature engines with 109 and 136 horsepower, batteries ranging from 42 to 52 kWh, and an impressive range of 325 to 400 kilometers. The car is also expected to be priced around 22,000 euros, and there are talks of a sporty model with an Alpine badge, boasting around 215 horsepower.
9. Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD
Opel’s Manta is undoubtedly one of the most cherished and adored models in the brand’s history. It was a reasonably priced coupe that first hit the market in 1970 and has recently been reintroduced in a suitably modernized form as the Manta GSe ElektroMOD. This new electric model comes with a 147 horsepower motor and a fully functional manual gearbox, offering a range of around 200 kilometers. Could the Opel Manta make a comeback on the roads? Keep an eye out for 2025…
10. Mercedes-Benz EQG
With the world moving towards electric vehicles, even the few remaining pure SUVs such as the G-Class have no escape from electrification. We can look to spy photos and the EQG prototype unveiled last year to get a sense of what the new emission-free model will be like. The EQG prototype retains the design characteristics of the original Geländewagen from the late 1970s. However, we have no official technical information yet for the new 4×4 set to arrive in 2024.