Ralph Gilles Talks About The Challenges Of EV Design

Recent Corporate Short Video, Talks About How The Product Design Office Is Handling The Transition To EVs...

In a recent video posted on its social media pages, Stellantis created a video where the company’s Chief CO2 Corporate Officer, Alexandre Guignard, and Chief Design Officer, Stellantis North America, Ralph Gilles, recently met at the Stellantis North American Headquarters to discuss the role of design and its crucial part in the company’s roadmap to Carbon Net Zero strategy by 2038.

Ram 1500 Revolution BEV Concept. (Ram).

For those of us who dislike the idea of a complete transition to electric vehicles (EVs), it seems almost unavoidable with the ongoing emissions restrictions by the government. However, the North American market isn’t ready to fully switch to electric just yet due to the lack of infrastructure, the current state of the power grid, charging speeds, and range factors. But hopefully, that will change by 2038.

Chrysler Airflow Graphite Concept. (Chrysler).

Nevertheless, Stellantis’ North American Product Design Office (PDO) in Auburn Hills, Michigan, seems to have embraced the challenge. Gilles mentions in the video that the team is working as far out as ten years on some projects, including mid-cycle actions (MCAs) or updates on some of their new battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) that haven’t even reached the market yet. They are putting in place a plan to continue updating each vehicle throughout its lifetime.

Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Banshee eStage 2 Concept. (Dodge).

This could mean, other than the design of the exterior and interior, exploring different ways to package future battery and charging technologies.

The five-minute video doesn’t provide us with any new details on future products but does explain the new challenges of working with EVs in efforts of designing for the challenging North American market.

Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only the Editor for MoparInsiders.com, 5thGenRams.com, and HDRams.com but an automotive photographer. He is an avid fan of offshore powerboat racing, which he travels the country to take part in.

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The shine on Ralph’s star may be dimming as “ho hum” products, one might argue, are becoming the norm rather than the exception under Gilles. Ram, Jeep and even Dodge seem to have a similar design philosophy and execution that is stagnated and lacks brand characteristics in deference to safely replicating other brands and market trends. Just call it dull.
This interview is telling as a once bold and daring personality is mouthing corporate talking points and politically correct psychobabble for unwitting consumers. That tells me his job is under scrutiny and he is following marching orders and his conservative styling studio has lost its uniqueness, daring and vision. No risk is not my opinion of Ralph and his latest efforts are cookie cutter.
The time for a new direction may have come and this interview messages that reality for Gilles fans like me. If so, Ralph will still take a place in automotive styling history. This interview at minimum, just disappoints.

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Went to work yesterday with the temperature hovering around Zero degrees F. Unfortunately, a rental Tesla died on the parking ramp at the airport where I work. Luckily, this Tesla bricked in a spot on the ramp which still allowed me to continue to my area of the garage. It was amusing to watch as people were hectically gathering and running enough extension cord to the stricken battery electric vehicle. Dead Teslas are getting to be a regular occurrence in the ramp lately.

I am living in the dystopian future. When at work I still have to deal with our fleet's EVs. We have some BMW I4 models at our location, which I have groused about previously. A lazy fellow worker managed to block the entrance to the service area with one and I had to move it. I couldn't help but think of the dead Tesla which greeted me in the parking ramp as I viewed this situation. The I4 had a 98% charge, so I was OK. When I looked the instrument panel for the juice level, I couldn't help but notice the range in our polar weather was 179 miles. That's 125 miles short of ideal weather range. I had to move other vehicles to unblock the BMW. When I finally moved it I just pulled it straight forward into the reserve lane, shut it down, and forgot about it.

Hours later, I saw the BMW at the car wash entrance. Somebody decided one of our customers should enjoy driving an EV when the temperature plunged below zero that evening. It was fully serviced and ready to go. I turned it on and was greeted with a warning the key-fob battery was out of juice. (This can happen with a petrol fueled car as well, especially in extreme temperatures. The difference with ICE is that their interiors are toasty warm, heating an EV interior is very energy consuming and remains cold to conserve range.) I took it through the car wash, which is heated and around 75 feet long, and drove it up one floor to where the person who deals with the key fobs is. This was less than a quarter mile of distance. I now had 95% of charge and a range of 155 miles. I shut it off and restarted it to see if I would get the key-fob warning again. I got that and another warning. The second warning stated, "Extreme cold temperature, range severely reduced."

Battery electric vehicles are very limited in cold weather. This is the reality the powers that be want us to ignore. I'm sure the video with Ralph was recorded earlier so the weather wasn't as bad. As a write this where I live it is still below zero and we have arctic sunshine. Looking at the weather map, Detroit is enjoying the same polar plunge. It was single digits this morning in Oklahoma City and in the teens in Dallas, Texas.

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You didn't keep the V8 around, you're struggling with EVs, maybe you should get into another line of work...take all of upper management with you.

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Ralph is in charge of the styling studio, he doesn't make power-train decisions. Ford got their EV out the door on time. Buy a Mach-e. I heard buyers can get a great deal on one right now.

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I have a Ram and a 300. Also have an Ioniq5 EV. We use it for local commuting, never a problem. Runs great, its fast and there is no maintenance save washer fluid. Know your car and its limitations. Running out of juice is like running out of gas, no different. Granted you cant go to the gas station and get a bucket of juice. The infrastructure is not there yet. It will be in time.

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