A Shocking Thought on Electric cars

We live in an increasingly autonomous world. We can clap to have the lights turned on. You can order packages from across the room. Electric cars are faster and quickly outperforming internal combustion cars, are electric cars ruining certain experiences in life?

Most people do a few things when they get into a car. First, they buckle in, then maybe they connect their phone to the car and they turn it on and drive away. You never think about the car starting or the radio working; usually, your mind is on something else. And it’s that emotional connection between the driver and the car that is dying. 

Back in the sixties, which is sometimes considered the golden age of driving, each car was hand-built, maintained by the owner, and a good percentage of those cars were manual. 

You got in, pumped the gas to get the carburetor primed, cranked the car, put it in gear, and drove away.  

The electrification of cars is killing the experience of driving in a number of ways. Personally, I’d prefer to have a driver’s car, rather than a car that doesn’t try and remove the driver from the driving itself.  

For example, last week I was gifted the chance to drive a brand new Porsche 911 Turbo S. While it was very enjoyable to drive, it wasn’t the dream ride that most people would expect from such an exclusive vehicle. 

A car I’d rather drive is the 1971 Datsun 240z, a simple sports car with no sound deadening, no air conditioning, a manual transmission and full driver involvement necessary to drive the car.

Elbert Stacy
Datsun 240z drag car

Sure, the Porsche is newer, faster, looks better, and will turn more heads, but that’s all irrelevant to the true experience of the driver. 

Teddy Osterblom
911 Turbo S

I’m not saying you can’t have fun in an electric car; companies such as Rimac have proven that an electric car can be just as fun ( some might suggest more fun) than the traditional gas-powered car. The point I’m making is this: electric cars provide a different experience.

I have yet to drive any of the cars in the Tesla lineup, but I’ve ridden in the Model X P90D, which is the top of the line, Tesla until the Roadster comes out in 2020. And though I felt the neck-breaking acceleration, not hearing the sound of a motor was odd, but not entirely disappointing.

Another experience I’ve had with electric performance was seeing General Motors’ electric Camaro drag car. Seeing this car and watching it make a very fast pass on a drag strip was again disappointing. Because so much of motorsport is based on skill, having electric power and all the aids necessary to drive an electric car removes the skill needed to be a part of motorsport. In a traditional internal combustion vehicle, you don’t have computer aids that detect wheel spin like in electric cars. This means that the driver must control how much power is being delivered by using the gas pedal and clutch. In an electric car, its simpler because the motor is designed to run at peak power, so there is no wheelspin. And this ease of performance or use is both making cars and motorsport more of a convenience for the masses, but no longer rewards skill. Not just the skill of the driver,  it no longer rewards the skill of a great tuner or a great engine builder. 

I’ve heard the argument that electric cars are better for the environment, but they are not. Manufacturing wise, electric cars have a big impact on the environment. The mining is done primarily with what is done with internal combustion vehicles. You could say that is only an issue until better methods of mining and battery recycling become available. The long term issue is that in the United States 67% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels. This has a big impact on the environment, which will only get worse as we try to push for more electric vehicles.  Forbes did a study in China, which is currently the biggest producer of EV’s in the world, and found that battery production put out up to 60% more C02 than gas-powered counterparts. The mining of materials for EV’s produces the same amount of C02 as mining for gas-powered vehicles. Yes, electric cars have a place, but for cost and environmental effect, you really can’t beat gas power.