Why are ‘green’ eco-friendly cars so ugly?

Hooray the Nissan Leaf is World Car of the Year, but doesn’t it look a bit like a frog? Is this statement true of all the green, hybrid, economically geared cars for sale today.

So are all eco chariots ugly, let’s start by looking at where it all started. Hybrids first broke onto the market some 12 years ago with Honda and Toyota releasing the Mk1 Insight and Prius, to be honest no one paid much attention and continued to buy Fords mighty Focus’s instead. The Insight was perhaps a bit too futuristic looking with its wheel covers and lack of back seats for all the hybrid gubbins, not to mention that Honda didn’t actually make it for long losing £10k on every one they sold. While the Prius looked just a bit too normal in comparison with no defining features at all, except that “hybrid synergy” badge on the boot. So when Toyota released the Mk2 Prius one would assume they would have made it look slightly less dull and ordinary, however this was not the case as the car merely evolved into a slightly odd looking hatchback with yet again no real defining features at all, and the Mk3 isn’t much better. Honda it seems then decided to jump on the bandwagon and released the Mk2 Insight, which unlike the original futuristic looking car looked alarmingly similar to the Prius. It was almost like Honda thought “Toyota are onto a winning formula with that Prius so let’s just copy it!”

Nissan Leaf

Now onto the Nissan Leaf, this car is billed as the first all-electric family car, a world first, an evolution in the car world, the future of motoring…. However instead of taking this opportunity to create something truly outstanding and worthy of all its hype Nissan seems to have created a car that looks like a bloated frog. Now I personally have nothing against the idea of electric cars, if they can legitimately have enough battery life to actually get you places and are not a glorified mobility scooter like the G-Wiz. But what I do not understand is how some manufacturers think that just because it has good mpg and will apparently save the world it allows them to be lax with the design, particularly when there are some beautiful used cars for sale for the same money.

The flip side of this is that many car manufacturers and even one of the ugly culprits, Honda, are able to make stunning looking eco cars. Take for example the Honda CR-Z, a modern hybrid take on the classic CRX. Lexus has also done well with the design of their new CT and the hybrid version of their big saloon the GS. Finally let’s not forget the Tesla Roadster and new Model S due in 2012. Both these cars manage to be sleek, elegant and beautiful while also being fully electric.

So my question is, is it really that hard to make a green car look like something you’d actually want sitting outside your house? After all they are going to be the future of motoring in the 21st century.

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