How Has One Electric Skateboard Chassis Helped Reshape the Way the Automotive Industry Thinks About EVs?

We explain how an electric skateboard chassis design from GM has helped the company and others to create simplistic yet highly efficient chassis platforms for EVs.
Written by Jason Crosby
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Sep 29, 2022
At first glance, it seems unlikely that an electric skateboard would have much in common with an
EV
. But according to some pros in the automotive industry, a specific electric skateboard chassis is key to innovative EV design. Thinking simply and efficiently could be the answer to mass-producing EVs at a time when production costs and retail prices for EVs are too expensive for many drivers to justify making the switch. 
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What could an electric skateboard chassis have in common with an EV? 

As
City of Chicago News
reports,
GM
worked on a design for an electric skateboard chassis nearly 20 years ago, and the benefits of that experimentation process are paying off. That’s because of the simplicity behind the design that GM was cooking up, something that Mike Simcoe, Global Vice President of Design at GM is keen to point out. 
Simcoe is quoted as stating “The architecture doesn’t interfere with the top half of the vehicle. Structurally, the skateboard effectively stops at the floor pan. And so everything above that is free.” GM’s design plans are no longer a secret and have been adopted by EV makers throughout the industry. 
When we imagine a traditional skateboard, we think of two axles, set on a long, low chassis. If the same concept is taken into account with EVs, it helps with weight distribution and offers designers the ability to place electric motors and battery packs over the front or rear axles, something that can’t be done in normal vehicles. 

Why else would automakers benefit from using an electric skateboard chassis design? 

With a long, low-slung chassis, EV makers can create larger interior spaces for passengers to enjoy relative to the body size of the vehicle. This is also a plus for load-bearing vehicles, like EV pickups. 
Rivian’s pickup, which uses an electric skateboard-style chassis, has ample storage in areas not available in body-on-frame trucks. Another EV pickup that uses an electric skateboard-style chassis is the Lordstown Endurance, which has its battery pack mounted between the frame rails. The Endurance will be the first pickup to have its electric motors mounted in the wheel wells. 

Are there any limitations to the chassis design?

Though the long and low chassis style helps with weight distribution, the article suggests that larger, heavier duty
electric pickups
or SUVs wouldn’t benefit from an electric skateboard chassis right now. 
With smaller, light-duty trucks, it makes more sense, but right now, larger electric pickups will likely stick to the more traditional, motor-on-rail design—a classic truck chassis style. 

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