It's a tempting to believe it can work, said David Twohig, a freelance engineer who has worked as chief engineer at Alpine and chief technical officer for Chinese-German automaker Byton.
For one thing, manufacturers need to increase their economies of scale. "It's simply mathematical. The money you need to spend to a develop a new platform is mind blowing," Twohig told Automotive News Europe.
Working with a partner or getting the platform or running chassis from a third party is also unlikely to dilute the brand. "It's sad to say but one electric motor is much the same as another," he said.
But the idea that customers can simply plug their own body on top of someone else's skateboard running chasis is simplistic in the extreme, Twohig believes.
It would compromise a range of key developmental areas such as crash protection, heating and ventilation, noise vibration and harshness (NVH) and handling.
"If you're carrying human beings in a vehicle, those whole-vehicle attributes are still of primary importance," he said. "[Is the argument that] the only thing that is important is the skateboard? I don't buy it."
Perhaps the biggest hurdle would be integrating modern-day electronics and electrical (EE) architectures. "It's massively complex and expensive, and most platform-sharing projects usually run into difficulty on the EE architecture, more than on the mechanical side," Twohig said.
The idea of the transferrable skateboard runs counter to the development and design process for a new platform, argues Christophe Cazes, former R&D director at Spanish metal parts supplier Gestamp and currently group innovation director at venture capital firm Novares.
"It's impossible to distinguish what you do on the platform from what you do on the top hat," he said.
For a car, it's difficult to improve on the metal monocoque design in terms of cost, crash protection, weight and driving dynamics. "A scalable unibody is the best way to get the most out of the material," Cazes said.
Connecting the body to the chassis is another problem for skateboard designs, he added.
The rise of the skateboard pitch is connected to the need of startups to raise money, Cazes believes. "It's an easy way for them to convince the financial markets they have a solution," he said.