Electric Isn’t Exotic . . . Or Even Anything Special

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Is it just speed – and exclusivity – which make a Maserati (or a Porsche) exotic? If that’s all it is, then electrified versions of these and other exotic cars ought to continue to sell.

Maserati thinks they will.

The exotic Italian carmaker just announced its intention to sell mostly electric exotics by 2020-2021. Fire and spark will recede. Henceforth, it will be mostly just the silence of electric motors

Four new EVs are on deck, including an electrified Quattroporte.

Porsche is plugging in, too – embodied by its Mission e all-electric concept and its recent publicly expressed “commitment” to a plugged-in future.

But what if there is no such future?

Of all the types of cars on the road, exotics are bought for emotional as much as for rational reasons. How they sound being as important to the enthusiast as how quickly they get to 60 – or get around a race track.

What happens when they no longer make any sound – or sound pretty much the same?

And perform pretty much the same, too.

An electric motor is, after all, an electric motor. Think power tools.

The main differences, one battery vs. another, are their relative size and how much power they each make. These are differences akin to the differences between a small box and a medium-sized box and a really big box.

You can put more stuff in the really big box – and the smaller box fits in the closet, while the small box doesn’t.

But at the end of the day, they’re all boxes.

There’s no EV exhaust note because there’s no EV exhaust. No combustion, god help us. No more gear whine, either – and if you don’t appreciate that, this column will be incomprehensible to you.

A Tesla sounds like . . . nothing. An electric Porsche and an electric Maserati will sound like the same . . . nothing. One gets to 60 in 2.9 seconds; the other in 3.1 seconds.

Other than by using a stopwatch – or by eying a badge – can anyone tell the difference?

Oh yes, there’s the badge… .

There’s not much to do, either – so very little reward. Remember – no gears to shift. Just push down on the accelerator, something any ape could do.

And if that’s all the difference – leaving just the shape of the thing and maybe the price -then what’s the difference between an electrified Quattroporte and an electrified 911?

Or for that matter, an electrified Camry? Why wold anyone care?

A 911 with a flat six, on the other hand – especially the old air-cooled flat sixes – is a very different thing than a V12-powered Maserati.

And both of them are profoundly different than  a Camry.

It’s a difference that is obvious the moment you turn the key – and irrespective of which gets to 60 sooner.

It is the difference between Beethoven and Wagner – and the both of them vs. the sound of  . . . nothing.

And it’s not just that.

It is also the very brand-specific engineering which goes into an internal combustion-engined Porsche or a Maserati that makes them exotic – along with the audible and other secondary benefits. You paid a bunch of money to get your hands on things very few other people ever get to experience.

Maserati and Porsche and others of their kind pioneered exotic layouts (e.g., the Porsche flat six) and design features such as dual overhead camshafts and aluminum blocks and heads; multiple carburetors (and then individualized port fuel injection), the precision syncopation of all those finely made and finally tuned mechanical components expressing themselves via stabs of the right foot.

Nothing else like it.

Those iconic IC engines also did exotic things that more plebeian engines in non-exotic cars didn’t dare do – such as rev to eight thousand RPM without leaving mechanical mementos of themselves (along with oil) trailing behind the car as it coasted to a stop by the side of the road.

Eventually, the exotic engineering filtered to more plebeian cars, making the exotics less exotic than they once were. The performance gap (acceleration, cornering grip; how quickly it can do a lap around a race track) between a six-figure exotic like the 911 and its Maserati equivalent and a $50,000 Chevy (the current Corvette) is not much anymore.

But – the Porsche and the Maserati still have intangible qualities a Corvette will never have, even if the Corvette gets to 60 more quickly.

Speed isn’t everything.

Which gets one to thinking about the nothing-specialness of electric motors.

The tooling and other costs associated with exotic engines inherently limits how many can be made and also makes the making expensive. But electric motors are just electric motors.

Why buy a six-figure electric 911 or Quattroporte when you could buy an electric Camry that’s basically the same thing, just not as quick – or as expensive? Is it just about demonstrating how much money you can spend?

An electric Camry will sound (and drive) almost exactly the same as the six-figure electric 911 or Quattroporte – unless the no-longer-exotics (except as regards their price tags) come with artificially generated soundtracks.

But maybe exotic EVs will sell.

They’ll still be exotic in terms of how much they cost – and for some people, that might be worth every penny.

. . .

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  1. The noise you hear when you start your engine is a byproduct, not a feature. Shifting an engine and using a clutch is a workaround to overcome the shortcoming of a combustion engine that it does not deliver torque if it is not rotating. Clover

    There are still challenges with electric cars. It’s limited range and the total cost of ownership are the most important. Once these are overcome you will notice that the streets will be filled with electric cars. Petrol cars will be moved to a museum and finally you will not be allowed to drive them on public roads. In a lot of countries they already ban old diesel cars from the city centers because they pollute the air. Clover

    Oh, BTW, in the mean time cars will take over the driver. You will only be allowed to use your car as a passenger. If you are nice and pay your taxes. It is just safer that way. 😉

    • You joke, but I know supposed car enthusiasts who say things like this (mainly the first sentence and the first half of the second paragraph) who say things like this unironically. Granted, they’re usually talking about more pedestrian models, but considering that most of us can’t afford the more exotic machinery, and that much of car culture (being a minority) is dependent on “mainstream” market segments to supply our future base material for tuning, I still think they’re being rather shortsighted about the whole thing.

  2. “Electric Isn’t Exotic . . . Or Even Anything Special”

    One huge advantage of electric cars is they can be charged overnight at home, eliminating the need to have that unpleasant experience the IC world call fueling. BTW, why are IC cars still fueled from a nozzle that spits flammable liquids? Should the whole gasoline fueling thing be made (female) user-friendly? These days it might even be possible for the pump to find fuel port and robotically fuel the car without human intervention beyond presenting a credit card. That the IC car business is brain dead is best illustrated with its 1800s fueling system technology. I think the last upgrade to the fueling system was a vacuum suction thing, also an 1800 type technology, in case the human operating the pump, increasingly the customer, screws up.

    Telsa should not be considered an electric car, like the Bolt. It is an electronic car, to be compared to an iPhone or Mac not a BMW. A Tesla is currently more than exotic or special it is unique. Tesla is currently the standard for a luxury car. A BMW 3 is a Tesla with precisely fitting body panels and all the amazing Tesla electronics ripped out and replaced by mechanical parts. A BMW 3 is kind of like a fancy Swiss mechanical watch, magnificently obsolete.

    The future of auto production, Waymo, seems to have gone with a Volvo electronic car. Another hint that the IC business is brain dead at least as far as the luxury market goes.

    • “One huge advantage of electric cars is they can be charged overnight at home, eliminating the need to have that unpleasant experience the IC world call fueling.”

      Huge advantage? Huge inconvenience unless the only place you ever go is home.
      The disadvantages are numerous. Some dangerous.

      ” Tesla is currently the standard for a luxury car.”
      Yeah, OK, suuuuure.

      • Addressing the various responses to my post.

        Tesla has sold an astonishing number of expensive cars. The market has spoken and Tesla is the standard that expensive cars are judged by. Maybe not luxury cars but expensive cars. The term luxury is not well described.

        My mea culpa:

        I will admit that there are other interpretations. Maybe Tesla is just releasing pent up demand that will turn out to be temporary. Or perhaps Tesla is just a fad and like other expensive fads, Veblen goods, and at some point, people will stop being delusional or at least move onto another expensive fad. Maybe y’all are right, Tesla is not a luxury car, it is just more expensive. Is that expense justified? Is it the market that decides that?

        ” every week or two to refuel my vehicle in 5 minutes” The market has spoken and it seems there are people who will pay to avoid the time and other inconveniences of fueling. Calculate yearly fueling costs, including time spent traveling to and from a gas station and maybe fears like the possibility of armed robber or ruining your news shoes. I don’t know what you consider to be the value of your time but multiply that by 20x to imagine what a Tesla owner thinks time spent fueling is costing them. There are also people with extraordinary salaries that essentially work 24x7x365. For those people, time is so short being able to skip fueling is a huge selling point.

        Women “are all perfectly capable of refueling ” But does it bring them joy (as the Japanese female self help and organizing expert asks)?

        Your comments about “1800 type technology” – I repeat. Nothing says the IC engine engineering is brain dead more than fueling. It is a nuisance underground storage tank, connected to a pump that spits flammable fluid out of a hose. The thing should have been redesigned at least in the 1990s and upgraded regularly after that, but the IC car business is brain dead (senile?) and can’t handle it. I also don’t see anyone arguing why the current fueling technology is optimal or even 21st century. It is telling that the financialized economy engineers clever new ways for you to pay for fuel with credit, but not how to get that fuel into your car.

        “you pay a very high price for something which achieves the same results as a $20 Tracfone-”

        Are the iPhone and other expensive Apple products productivity tools or conspicuous consumption? I don’t know, but it is telling that many of people that buy iPhones for personal use also have very high hourly wages. Yes, people with more money than sense buy conspicuous consumption products. But the iPhone/mac is also the tech with the least cost of operation in terms of time wasted chasing down tech support type problems.

        The body panel stuff misses the point. Tesla is judged like other consumer electronics. Like a fancy computer, build quality is just one factor. A crummy case for a computer with a top tier video card will still command a high price. Tesla is not an IC car, the part people are most interested is the ‘skateboard’ where the battery, motors, suspension, and electronics are. Poor fit and finish usually imply there might be serious mechanical defects elsewhere in an IC car. Fit and finish issues do not, it seems, imply serious mechanical defects in Evs.

        • “Fit and finish issues do not, it seems, imply serious mechanical defects in Evs.”

          Batteries? They should be fit and finished properly. If the rest of the car is an indicator……

          And don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike electric cars. They have a place and if they fill your needs, great.

          But any thoughts that they can replace ICE cars entirely are silly IMO. Anywhere in Canada, other than Vancouver and the South Vancouver Island, EVs just won’t work 6 months of the year without major accommodations to deal with the cold. Same with most northern climates.

          Trucking. Sure fElon thinks he can bring a semi to market. We will see. His track record is not great.

          And, assume that EVs can replace ICE. Where is all the electricity going to come from? The $40,000+ solar panel system that can’t charge your car at night without massive storage and conversion losses?
          What happens when gasoline price drops to $1.00/gallon because EVs are reducing demand? Will it still make sense to pay $0.20/kWh?

          • “They should be fit and finished properly. ” Word! But Panasonic partnering with Tesla appears to be doing a first rate job on the batteries. Tesla also partnered with Nvidia, the electronics, which would include the equivalent of a transmission, seems to be as good as it gets. The ‘skateboard’ tesla produces is said to be to top notch and that is what people who are paying money for a Tesla want.

            “What happens when gasoline price drops to $1.00/gallon because EVs are reducing demand?” My point is that Tesla is a consumer electronics device, not an EV like Bolt or Prius. So people will buy Tesla because it is the only automobile in a consumer electronics package. Chevy Bolt will be more sensitive fueling costs. An interesting problem is what happens to the power grid if everyone goes electric. I don’t know.

            I agree there are a lot of reasons not to buy a Tesla, and return it if you did. But knowledgeable people are buying them, and not returning them even when there are all sorts of issues that would destroy an IC car brand. That is the free market at work. The free market does not have to justify itself to you or me.

            • Hi George,

              I could cross swords with you over this on many points but will stick to the fundamental one – your faulty (your risible) premise that this “… is the free market at work. ”

              When I read that, I spat my coffee all over my keyboard. As The Kingfish once said, now lookee here….

              Tesla only exists as other than a tiny boutique brand (back when it was selling converted to electric Lotuses) because the market for its cars has been artificially created and supported by massive subsidies, “zero emissions” (electric car) production quotas and CAFE regs, which effectively force automakers to build compliance cars which are electric cars.

              And even with all of that, the “market” – as you put it – for EVs is a tiny percentage of the total market, around 1 percent and almost all of that concentrated in CA and AZ, where EV mandates and other artificial inducements are the greatest.

              There is no free market to speak of for EVs because they are too expensive and too impractical for most people. They would be much more expensive, if the subsidies were taken away.

              They are fundamentally toys for the virtue signaling affluent.

              Take away the subsidies and regs which artificially advantage EVs and EVs go away as other than extremely low production indulgences for affluent people who have money to burn on something they think is “cool” (nothing wrong with that, by the way) but which has no real free market case to make for itself.

              • Late reply, but I do have to say, the high-end market is probably the best one for EVs (to the extent that there is such a thing, anyway) simply because most of the people shopping in that market can afford to, and probably already do, keep around a second, presumably combustion-powered, car for longer trips. Thus, the EV can fulfill its natural function as a short-distance runabout without paralyzing its owner.

                That said, there are still a myriad of issues with EVs that don’t seem to get a lot of attention. Here’s one you’ve probably not thought about – harmful EMF exposure for driver and passengers!

                • Hi Chuck,

                  That’s Musk’s argument, basically – i.e., that (like personal computers, when they first came out) EVs will appeal at first to the affluent, who can afford them – and then the cost will go down over time as technology becomes less expensive, etc.

                  But personal computers were never mandated by the government, nor subsidized by it. The first Apple computer was offered on the free market and free market demand kept it viable, lowering its cost over time.

                  EV mandates and subsidies have short-circuited the market. They have created false market signals – resulting in the creation of economic atrocities such as the Tesla and its imitators. These cars will not become less expensive over time because they are high-performance luxury-sport vehicles that don’t give a flip about being practical or economical.

                  Has the cost of a new IC-powered Lexus or Benz gone up or down since the ’90s?

                  If the mandates did not exist, the incentive would have been to focus on efficiency and practicality – and there might actually be an EV that cost less to own and drive than an IC-powered economy car.

                  • Apple did do a lot of work selling to local school districts. Of course that’s orders of magnitude less of a problem that TM’s behavior and of course in the 8 bit days there were many players.

                • I dunno about the EMF thing, Chuck- People who spend all day, every day as a motorman or conductor on a subway, in an often closed environment, mere inches from massive 600V electric motors, don’t seem to acquire any ill effects…… (I think that such is only a problem when it is transmitted wirelessly- which is one reason why I don’t have wi-fi in my home, nor regularly use a cell phone)

            • ” My point is that Tesla is a consumer electronics device, not an EV like Bolt or Prius.”

              What? As in it has less practical value that social status value?

              “Tesla also partnered with Nvidia, the electronics, which would include the equivalent of a transmission, seems to be as good as it gets.”

              By what measure and, excuse this, but do you have any clue what you are talking about? Your wording suggest ‘No!’. Graphic card maker (equivalent to) transmission maker? Care to explain?

              “The ‘skateboard’ tesla produces is said to be to top notch and that is what people who are paying money for a Tesla want. ”

              Is the skateboard assembled by Tesla? Is everything above the skateboard assembled by Tesla? So what is your point?

              “I agree there are a lot of reasons not to buy a Tesla, and return it if you did. But knowledgeable people are buying them, and not returning them even when there are all sorts of issues that would destroy an IC car brand. That is the free market at work. The free market does not have to justify itself to you or me.”

              Can you reword that into something that makes sense?

        • *”Calculate yearly fueling costs, including time spent traveling to and from a gas station and maybe fears like the possibility of armed robber or ruining your news shoes.”*

          I pass gas stations everywhere I go. It’s just a matter of slowing down and turning the steering wheel and stopping. No inconvenience at all. Even when I lived in NYC, being robbed at a gas station by anyone other than the government was never an issue. And speaking of NYC, and every other big city, where millions of people live in apartments, or at best, houses that don’t have a driveway, much less a garage; where do they charge their silly 4-wheeled gadgets?

          Cost? Hmmm, I suspect that when it’s time for a new battery, and that is figured into the equation, plus the extra up-front cost you pay for the car (About twice what an IC car of similar size and class would cost), it won’t be so rosy. The cost of charging them may seem cheap now, but that won’t remain the case for long, as is already the case in Europe, where the fees for public charger use are steadily increasing- both to cover the cost of electricity, and the dead space a charging car occupies for hours at a time- which, as the number of EVs increase, will become much more of an issue. Then there’s the fact that if EVs become more common, the electrical infrastructure will need massive upgrades, including many more generators; and somebody has to pay for that, which means that the cost will either be paid by EV drivers, or by everyone through taxation, in which case we have yet another subsidy for the EV driver- not to mention that at some point, road taxes will have to be collected from EV drivers, whether through their electric bills, or some other scheme- but my point is: The cost of fueling an EV is artificially low right now, to get people to accept EVs, which are not practical nor economical, so they have to be made to artificially appear that way. The free ride that EV owners are getting will not last forever.

          *”The market has spoken”*

          Yes it has. It has said that few are willing to buy cars which cost at least double that of their IC counterparts, unless they are subsidized by federal and state governments (Both in their purchase, AND in their manufacture); and that some people can be fooled by propaganda into thinking that EVs are practical and economical, but those people soon wake up to the truth after owning an EV over time; which leaves us with the only real demographic who purchase Teslas: Virtue-signalers who can afford to buy an expensive toy in addition to their other vehicles.

          Take away the:
          Manufacturing subsidies.
          Purchase subsidies.
          Carbon credit scheme.
          Temporarily free/cheap electricity.
          Avoidance of road/fuel taxes.
          Economic ignorance (i.e. failure to count cost of battery replacement; major depreciation when the thing becomes totally obsolete while it’s IC-engined counterpart is still viable for another decade; etc.)

          THEN maybe you can hear what the actual market is really saying.

          • The subsidy issue doesn’t work for me because:
            1) I think pretty much every industry in the US is subsidized.
            2) The US is a democracy and those Senators and Representatives voted the subsidies in. If Ford is not subsidized that is because the Senators and Representatives from the Great Lakes states didn’t want the subsidies. But I suspect that Ford gets plenty of subsidies and that Ford is mostly interested in getting a piece of the Pentagon budget. Clover
            3)Anyone who takes resources away from the Forever War is doing God’s work. Godspeed Elon Musk!
            4) Give the scale of the US government, Tesla’s subsidies are really not much. Sure Tesla customers are getting a ‘deal’ but Tesla customers seem to me to be disproportionately the most productive Americans, so why shouldn’t they get some of their tax $s back?
            5) If Musk doesn’t get the money, who will? Probably somebody you hate more. I almost guarantee Eric Peters autos readers will not get a penny if the Musk subsidy is eliminated.

            • Hi George,

              EV People always trot out the ” I think pretty much every industry in the US is subsidized” line . . . it is one of Elon’s favorites. But it is a non sequitur. Because it does not deal with the fact – inarguable – that the IC powered car, as such, does not need subsidies in order to be viable on the market, even though some IC car companies have been subsidized. But all EVs depend on subsidies and cannot exist – as other than very low volume toys for affluent people – without subsidies.

              Massive subsidies.

              The “forever war” argument is also a non sequitur. First, the U.S. is nearly self-sufficient with regard to oil and the majority of the oil it imports comes from places like Mexico, not the Middle East. Your argument is a bogey.

              Your line that “America is a democracy” is fatuous and immoral. Fatuous, because the country was conceived as a republic. Immoral, because democracy is just two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Numbers do not make right.

              Again, we come to the core issue:

              If EVs are so wunnerful and the market you claim exists is real, then let’s get rid of all “zero emissions” quotas, CAFE regs and subsidies for any type of car… and let the market decide.

              As my ol’ pal Obnoxio The Clown used to say: Huh? Well? How about it?

            • George,

              Are you for real? No, seriously; you’re just being a troll now, right? You can’t be serious.

              A republic (Bad enough!) with democratically elected “representatives” who are supposed to be limited by the Constitution, is NOT a democracy.

              Uncle does not give IC-engined car buyers a personal subsidy for buying IC cars.

              The money which Uncle gave Chrysler were loans- not subsidies. The money [our money] which Uncle gave GM were loans and or purchase of shares of the company- they lost a few billion of our money on that one- but that pales to insignificance when you amortize it over the number of cars GM has made in the intervening years vs. the fact that Tesla was given much more, while only producing a tiny fraction of the number of cars- i.e. there may be a couple of dollars of taxpayer money in every GM car….but there are TENS of THOUSANDS of dollars of taxpayer money in every Tesla, PLUS the $7500 refund given directly to every purchaser.

              The Pentagram?
              Yes, they will use the same excuse with electricity, to continue the wars- since the generation of electricity requires oil or natural gas or coal- but of course, they are discouraging the use of coal, because it is not conducive to perpetuating the military-industrial complex…..errr…I mean “global war[m]ing”.

              With the increase that willbe needed in the generating of electricity, plus the fact that the military will not be switching to electric tanks and trucks…and the fact that Uncle is the biggest user of oil, means nothing will change. (We won’t have enough natural gas for lonmg to handle all of the new generators).

              “If Musk doesn’t get the money, who will?”
              How about letting it stay in the pockets from which it came?

            • George, never mind my earlier quotes and queries. I should have read the other responses before mine. Clearly a waste of time.

              Turn on your autopilot and travel through as many roadworks as you can. Suck on all offered Flavor Aid. A bit o’ Darwin seems the cure.

              • Hi Cold,

                It’s kind of interesting, isn’t it – in a pathological sort of way – how these Elonites repeat almost verbatim from the same script?

            • Who would get the money if the crony capitalist huckster didn’t? Nobody. The money doesn’t exist until congress wills it into being and the treasury issues a bond and the federal reserve buys it with money it creates. And if the fed doesn’t buy it there are one or more intermediate steps in the process but ultimately it’s the same end result, the spending of the government conjures the money into being and all existing money in USD loses value.

              • Hi Brent,

                I’d rephrase this a bit. For George.

                People currently being robbed would get to keep more of their money.

                Whatever Uncle “gives back” in the form of a subsidy, he takes in from some other victim. The wealth has to be produced – then taken – before it can be distributed.

                Tesla (and so on) are fundamentally wealth redistribution mechanisms, a high-end form of EBT.

                • Robamahood…Stealing from the middle class and giving to the Lazy(and entitled Libtards as well)

                  Isn’t that where this crazy Tesla Tax incentive came from anyway?

            • Late reply, plenty to criticize here, but I’ll stick with one thing.

              The United States is not a democracy. That word just grinds my gears so hard. Look at some statistics from the 2016 election. See how Hillary Clinton won the popular vote (probably by some manner of skullduggery), but lost the electoral vote. Now look at an electoral map from the same election, and marvel at those tiny little urban blue islands trying to lead the massive red oceans (which have entirely different challenges, issues, attitudes, and desires) around by the nose. That (i.e. tyranny of the majority), along with the vulnerability to vote-buying and vote-stuffing, should tell you immediately why we are not a democracy and hopefully never will be.

              • Hi Chuck,

                Indeed. And, thank God.

                Democracy is premised on the idea that the individual has no rights which a “majority” may not rescind or limit at its pleasure. I italicize “majority” to emphasize the point you yourself just made. And which I will expand on, briefly:

                In the typical presidential election, roughly half the eligible voting cohort actually does vote and the winner in most of these contests receives roughly a bit more than half of that half.

                So, the president – who is a kind of elected/term-limited dictator – is elected by approximately 26-28 percent of the people who voted and half again those who could have and a fraction of the population as a whole.

                We either have rights, in which case it is immoral for anyone to violate them, whether individually or as a member of a collective or a “representative” of a collective.

                Or, we do not have rights.

                The plain fact is we don’t have rights. There isn’t one – whether to speak, to labor or to hire labor, to associate (or not), to care for our own bodies as we deem fit – that is not, in actual fact, at best a conditional privilege.

      • Check any sales chart in the last month. Tesla owns the luxury sedan market in the US. Not just #1, but about the same sales as all their competitors combined.

        • Oy vey…

          The entire Tesla “business” is built on mandates and subsidies. Incontestable. Each car sold therefore represents a loss to taxpayers – who are forced to subsidize the company and the cars. This is morally despicable. If Tesla had to sell each car at market price – without “help” from Uncle – the Model3 would be a $60,000-plus car…and very few people would buy it because very few people can afford $60,000-plus cars.

          They buy the Tesla3 because they’re doing so partially with other people’s money.

          Even so, it is still more than twice as expensive as a well-equipped IC economy sedan.

          Tesla “sells” in the way that mandatory car insurance “sells.”

          Observe that both are obnoxiously overpriced – precisely because they are not market-driven things but rather government mandated things.

          And I don’t doubt that soon we’ll be forced to buy these electric idiocies… the choice not to buy will be eliminated (because otherwise most people would choose not to) in order to further the true object… which is to control mobility more tightly by making mobility more expensive.

          If you don’t see this by now, you’re as blind as Stalin’s little kittens.

          Electric cars are toys for the virtue signaling affluent – people who can afford to indulge the purchase of a $40,000-plus luxury-sport car that happens to be electric – because they think it’s “cool” or “clean.”

          They are ludicrous as economical or practical alternatives to gas engined cars.

          Which is why the government mandates and subsidizes them. It forces them on the market – because there is no real market for them.

          Let’s see how well Teslas and other EVs would sell if CAFE disappeared. If there were no “zero emissions” mandates. If all the subsidies went away.

          How many times, O Lord?

          My teeth are beginning to ache…

        • PS: There is no “luxury sedan market.”

          There are markets.

          These are categorized according to class (price/type).

          Elon’s bullshit depends on … bullshit.

          Example: Elon touts the sales stats of the Model S vs. other full-size luxury cars. But the Model S is a mid-sized car. It may cost six figures, but it should be compared with mid-sized models such as the BMW 5 and Benz E, which cost around $50k-60k-ish.

          I wish I were affluent enough to signal my virtue by buying a Tesla… so I could use it for target practice in my backyard.

          Anyone want to crowd to source that? I’m serious. I live in a rural area and have acreage. It’s legal to shoot stuff in the field.

          We could have an EPautos Anti-Clover Fest.

          With a really big bonfire, too. Lots of C02 “emissions,” just for Paul!

    • “Tesla is currently the standard for a luxury car”? I really hope this is sarcasm. A Tesla is roughly equivalent to a 1992 Kia as far as build quality is concerned. True, it’s possible you might get one that’s perfectly fine, but you also might get one with all kinds of issues. A Tesla is a quality crapshoot, just like a 1992 Kia Sephia.

      My 2015 Kia K900 has vastly higher build quality than my neighbor’s Telsa model S, and a more comfortable, luxurious interior. I’ll agree that the Tesla has more and fancier electronics, but complex electronics that are more likely to fail than a simple mechanical design and perform no better than that simple mechanical design (think door handles) aren’t really a plus in my book. I can go farther and refuel faster than my neighbor too. And a REALLY big plus here, should I be involved in a collision my Kia is far less likely to burst into flames and incinerate me than my neighbor’s Tesla, which has approximately the same number of horrible fiery collision deaths per 100,000 vehicles as the infamous Ford Pinto. Of course, given that Tesla is a darling of those in power pushing the impractical EV agenda, the media and the climate change believers, Tesla will never be called on that like Ford was.

      As for making “the whole gasoline fueling thing be made (female) user-friendly”, I find this statement not only appallingly sexist, but also complete nonsense. I can assure you that my mother, wife, sisters and daughters are all perfectly capable of refueling their ICE powered cars with ease. In fact, millions of people, (half of whom are of below average intelligence!) manage to refuel their ICE powered vehicles every day with no problems or difficulty whatsoever. So why, pray tell, would there even be a need for a complex, failure prone robotic system to do this simple activity that can be far more easily, safely and cheaply accomplished as it is now?

      Your comments about “1800 type technology” are likewise irrelevant. Only people so blinded by the glamor of high tech want to use it for all things, even when it would be vastly more expensive, less efficient, and possibly less safe. After all, knives are 100,000 BC type technology. Should we replace them with robots to cut our steaks and apples for us?

      None of the technology you mention is coming to fruition because it is better or safer or more efficient. It’s coming because it gives those who would be our masters more complete control over us.

    • Ah, yes, it is such a huge inconvenience to pull into a gas station every week or two to refuel my vehicle in 5 minutes….. Hey, I have to get out of the truck and actually lift the nozzle to the fuel filler! N’oh the pain, the pain!

      It would be such a convenience to be able to fuel my vehicle at home over the course of 8 or 12 hours…provided I am going home, and have enough juice to make it there, and that no emergency would ever come up which might require me to actually use the vehicle during that time.

      Hey, sorry boss, I can’t make it in today, ’cause the electricity went out last night, and my car never got juiced!

      [Return to sanity]
      A Tesla is indeed like an iPhone: You pay a very high price for something which achieves the same results as a $20 Tracfone- and then next year you need a new one, because last years model is terribly “obsolete” or out of style, or broken and not worth repairing, and us sane people laugh at those with what was state-of-the-(f)art 3 days ago, but is now a paperweight.

  3. Here’s my vision of the electric cars of the future:

    Every car will be an automated egg-shaped “pod”, similar to Google’s…err, I mean, Waymo’s driverless cars. Each will cost about $25K (provided that we’ll even be able to purchase these things), plus whatever the auto manufacturers-turned-sound designers will charge to download one of their custom engine sounds. Want your electric buggy to sound like a Ferrari? Great! It’ll only cost an additional $35K, courtesy of the DMCA.

    Seriously though, the future’s gonna suck ass. ☹️

  4. Eric,

    I know exactly what this future looks like it is perfectly encapsulated in a song from the legendary band Rush called “Red Barchetta” The issue you discuss today is likely my path toward outlaw in the end.

  5. Thing is,things change.We ICE people are,sorry to say,getting as irrelevant as the horse and buggy.As always,the next generation comes up and they will be in charge.Cant fight it,cant change it,the changing of the guard is a given.All we can do is adapt as best we can.
    If need be they will legislate us ICE folks off the roads,I fear thats coming.
    So,what to do? Keep on driving,in a silent electric box with the pedal you just step on,until that too is mandated away?Im going for an electric sedan like a Jag or Lexus,a luxury liner I hope.My current luxo liner is quiet,step on the pedal and the sucker just moves on out.Competent,comfortable and pretty dang quick too.I like that myself.
    But I really have no hope,the pod is coming.I think maybe an electric bike might be more up my alley than an electric car,still have to drive the bike.

    Life moves on and every generation laments the changes,just how it is. 🙁

  6. Isn’t the roar of the current Mustang’s engine simulated? If so, the same technology could be applied to the boondoggle called Tesla.

    • Not that I am aware of. My ’12 has this silly thing called a sound tube to bring engine sounds into the passenger compartment. But it’s just a dumb tube.

  7. While I agree the ICE has become wonderfully speciated with wonderful sounds, I also consider coachwork, inside and out, driver and rider amenities, suspension and steering, and speed to be important.

    Speed though is primarily a speculative feature unless you live and commute to work on a racetrack.

    Being half-deaf I simply can’t appreciate the joys you describe except when I feel the roar of it in my chest.

    My ideal vehicle would have home-cracked hydrogen/gasoline combusted on a jet turbine like arrangement with a battery sized to my most frequent trip length. Then I could have either the roar or the silence at will.

  8. Eric, you’ve tapped into something they we don’t think about, but we ‘feel’.
    The ear attached to our brain is just another sense, but wow, we don’t think about it much, or maybe even comprehend what it’s ‘telling’ us.
    Case in point:
    1. One of may favorite memories of motorcycle roadracing was the SOUND. Wow, was it awesome, running 12,500rpm on a 600. And there was this magic harmonic that was created which was very rare, when I would be passing a bike, with both of us near redline, that went Wah, Wah, Wah,,,,,,,, and it was music. The downshifting with the exhaust barking and cracking, again Wow………. I can still recall it with perfection from 25 years ago.
    2. Getting my 300 V8 ‘on-the-pipe’, is again, music to my ears. on-the-pipe comes from us old two-stroke motorcycle guys reference which I’m sure you understand. I do it a lot just to hear it. My wife says ‘that makes you happy doesn’t it?’ YUP.
    Maybe it’s because I’m a mechanical engineering geek that just loves what I know is, amazing work is being performed. Same thing happens to me when I turn on one of my big motors at work and it’s screaming for all it’s got, I just love it.

    • A 600 Jap crotch rocket sounds like the older F1 race cars . Heavenly. I might buy one just for the sound. You can always fit one more motorcycle in the garage. I was never in danger of buying a exotic sports car gas or electric.$$$

    • Chris, I know just how you feel. Back in the day(here he goes again)when I ran 2 cycle Detroit Diesels on the road(they’re still made and run on everything except the road in this country and on the road all over the world). Getting close passing a 4 cycle truck, the harmonics sometimes were absolutely wild.

      I used to experience same with the old 327 with the Zuntov dance that could create some wild harmonics with other engines.

      I’ve had low planes going slow over that old Detroit do some wild things and at night you wouldn’t know what the hell was going on.

      • Good stuff! I never heard it getting passed, only passing, and you had to get close. I would sometimes try and get way to close even when it wasn’t necessary just to try and duplicate the harmonic.
        My brother just restored an old 2-stroke diesel bus from an old greyhound bus and he said it sounds awesome.

        • Chris, I wish he’d make a video of it on the road and wound up, post it to YT. Out here in the Rolling Plains, sound carries a long way and I still hear 6-71 Detroits on pulling units and the sound takes me back every time.

          I sometimes watch videos of old trucks and the big Detroits are an aural pleasure deluxe. It’s not uncommon to see 6V 53’s in pickups and running straight pipes. I have to admit watching a guy in a pickup run two sticks does my heart good.

          All this isn’t lost on the Mellenials since some have been very young men doing it. They quite often have a BrownLipe 2 or 3 speed aux. box behind some 4 or 5 speed transmissions and split the gears using both boxes just for the hell of it.

          Last year I worked with a guy my age who spent his life being and O/O and he told me of an old man who had a truck so fast it was the talk of truckers everywhere he went. He had locks on the hood and generally deflected questions about what was under it. One day he was with a group of O/O’s and they kept on at him to fees up. He unlocked and flipped to hood to reveal a V12-71 with not the requisite 2 blowers but 4 of them and some wild fuel set-up, a one of a kind type of thing. He said the truck was a 160 mph rig.

          You used to see lots of one-off engines from gearhead truckers. I used to know a many my dad’s age who hauled cattle most of his life. He had mostly Peterbilt 359’s and 379’s. He built his own engines and used various parts and pieces to turn Cummins engines into something never produced by the factory. It wasn’t uncommon for him to pass you with a full load of cattle nearing triple digits and unloaded, well into the triple digits.

          Some people still like to do that. I know a young man with the only type of Freightliner I ‘d care to drive, an FLD or Classic, similar to a Pete 379 and KW 900 L series. With a 600 HP Detroit 60 Series it will bump the gov. in 13th at 111mph.

  9. As one who spent his entire professional life (after the military) in the car-biz (first as a service rep for Ford throughout Latin America and then later as the owner/operator of franchises for Porsche, Audi, Lincoln-Mercury, Mazda, and (mercifully) briefly for Suzuki, I’ve seen the electric car idea raise its ugly head repeatedly over the years. It’s proponents invariably are utterly technically ignorant and would have difficulty explaining the workings of a butter-knife. Nor can they understand that all electrical energy has to come from somewhere, mainly from coal-fired power plants. As with so many “new” ideas, the proponents of the electric car were liberal arts majors in college who likely couldn’t even pump their own gas

  10. Tesla??? $9 BILLION of taxpayer dollars shoved up a liberal globalist RATHOLE. That is what Musk has already grabbed from us serfs…given gratuitously by slimy, liberal “politicians” who are SUPPOSED to be good stewards of OUR MONEY. OUR $$$$$!!
    Electric cars are baubles and cannot compete in the real market against IC cars, which already have become ‘very clean’… Your politicians want us serfs OUT of our safe, clean IC cars and into mASS transit or short-distance, easily-controlled electric vehicles. ECs use MORE energy and pollute MORE due to depending on the grid for recharging..not to mention taking 45 minutes at least to recharge..IF you can find a “station”. Not to mention the environmental WASTE generated by 10000s of used batteries! What crap!

  11. Eric, great article. This and other recent pieces from you keep reminding me of the Rush song Red Barchetta. The “Motor Law” is coming. Fortunately I do have a white haired uncle – he’s got some great motorcycles stashed away. Will have to work on getting a few classic cars too.

  12. I’ve been watching this disaster for some time and I appreciate your observations, Eric. Right on the money. Speaking of money, for a number of years we have been running a sideline business refurbishing (not restoring) older vans and light trucks for small businesses. With the cost and complexity of new vehicles there’s quite a market for these trucks. Recently, my partner has been getting inquiries from our customers about the same services for passenger vehicles. If this electric car fiasco continues, and I see no end of it, we may have found a way to profit from other’s insanity. We’ve developed a long list of aftermarket and salvage parts suppliers and I get offers almost daily from folks who haven’t wised up and want to sell their perfectly good ’70s, ’80s and ’90s cars and trucks, usually for much less than their value. In many cases, we can get most of them back to 90% new for a few hundred dollars. And next year they’ll probably be worth more as the insanity continues. Just sayin’…..

    • A very good, rational and environmentally friendly business by the sounds of it. Good luck!

      I expect that as soon as what you say becomes popular, ‘clunker’ laws will put an end to it. The car companies are drooling over the prospect of legislated obsolescence. Some cities are already banning cars by age and no other factor. IIRC Paris? did so years ago.

      • ^^^^^

        For the Frenchless,

        All cars registered before 1997 will be banned in Paris as of July 1st, under a new law aimed at curbing the city’s chronic smog and traffic problems. As Le Monde reports, the older cars will be banned from the city center during weekdays, as will all motorcycles registered before 1999.

        The ban was announced last year as part of an anti-pollution measure that will become progressively stricter in coming years. By 2020, the ban will extend to cover cars that were registered prior to 2010. Those who violate the rule can face a fine of up to €35 ($39), or €78 as of January 1st, 2017.

        This is the future. And it won’t stop with cities.

        • They won’t stop. In the USA the anti-motoring forces tried to ban all cars built before 1980 or 1982 starting in 1988. That war lasted until the late 1990s when they were finally fought back but they keep coming back.

          They want control and eventually they’ll even ban bicycles. They’ll find some “safety” reason or other nonsense but I can easily have a 20 mile radius with a bicycle and that’s unapproved travel far further than our betters will tolerate.

      • We’ve talked about that, too. My best guess is I’ll be able to get away with it for 15 or more years. It’ll be a lot harder to outlaw real vehicles in this semi- free state. We’re in southern Idaho. There’s only two of us working, part time, and we’re looking for a bigger shop. And there’s a 12 job waiting list. Nunzio, I’ll post on this list when we start taking on more work. I’m too old to work this hard so I’ll pass this thing off to some younger relatives and they can deal with the nitwits when the time comes.

  13. M3 is ripped apart by the most qualified person in the world to rip it apart.

    Spoiler alert: Sandy Munro thinks the ‘skateboard’ is amazing and it is the traditional auto makers that have to learn from Tesla. Tesla on the other hand just needs to hire Sandy Munro to fix all their body panel problems. And logistics problems. And redesign the autobody. …

    Sandy Munro’s teardown: http://www.autoline.tv/journal/?p=54950

  14. People need to see the bigger picture in forcing ev junk down our throats. Uncle does not want citizens to have the mobility we have now. They don’t care if everyone can re-charge their batteries or not, or if it takes 6 days to make what used to be a 2-3 day trip. Their ultimate goal is elimination of self transport altogether. They are just boiling the frog slowly. Ev’s are and will remain an expensive pain in the keister and exist to push society to call up drone car taxi’s (which there will never be enough for everyone’s needs)and mass transport. Drone sharing rides can be programmed to go only where Uncle permits. If the ‘social media credit’ comes here, good luck going anywhere. It’s all a matter of more control while creating the illusion the one still has ‘free choice’ in the matter; putz a, putz b or putz c ma’am? Period. Never mind that they are ALL identical under the hood anyway . Preparing you for gov ownership of everything & preparing, getting you ready, so you will actually want that tiny apt in that future multicultural diverse slum high rise in that slum city per Agenda 21. That is their dream goal, not that they will attain that nightmare though.

      • Like healthcare, it’s about the Dummycrats wanting CONTROL over a large sector of the economy. They want the American public dependent on THEM and genuflecting to their edicts.

        Ever more incentive to persist with restoration of the ’66 Plymouth Fury…nothing will sound so sweet as the sound of that big ol’ Mopar “Poly Head” motor, bored and stroked to 360 cubes, with a ‘mild’ 3/4 cam and duals, firing up!

  15. How does one charge an ev in the middle of winter when the traveling distance between two
    towns is more than 150 kilometers? Maybe Porsche will solve that problem. Until then, all EVs
    are just toys for idiots with more money than brains.

  16. Another insightful article that ties in with what you’ve said about the homogenization of cars. I can imagine an EV company offering a chassis with all the mechanical bits, along with a subscription to changeable body styles of their “Inspired By” series. You can get bodies that are close to those of Lamborghini, Maserati, etc.

    Eric – you’re quite the wordsmith: “precision syncopation”, and “mechanical mementos of themselves” verges on the poetic. Nice work!

  17. Who will purchase these throw away appliances rather than choosing to rent them on demand?

    Need to get somewhere? Bring up any number of car sharing Apps on your leased Smartphone and a self driving electric box will come sooner or later.

    At that point, what’s the difference between a KIA and a Ferrari?

    How many everyday items have moved to the rent only economy? We used to have personally owned music collections, DVDs, copies of software, even bicycles. In my midsize southeastern city, all have been replaced by Spotify, Netflix, Office 365, and the countless dock-less bicycles and scooters that crowd the sidewalks from Lime, Bird, and others. I have not seen a personally owned bicycle in uptown in months. Of course, the option still exist to purchase some of these things outright at high cost…for now. That said, I do use some of these services, albeit begrudgingly.

    What happens when the controllers, be it government, corporations, or some AI gone awry decides to deactivate our rented goods? When everything is “on demand” what happens when the demand cannot or will not be met?

  18. It sucks that all the automakers are on board with this electric nonsense. All the uncles of the world have them all over the barrel. That’s what happens when you take money from taxpayers, there are strings attached. Even if the taxpayers don’t want what the government is pushing.

    Reality will set in though someday. There isn’t an electric company anywhere on this planet ready for more electric cars. They don’t have the capacity nor the distribution for more then a few cars.

    In my town there are about 2,000 people without power right now. Why? There was no big storm or anything. Nope, just a neglected 100 foot tall rotted telephone pole that finally gave way bringing down a couple major wires. Guessing no one from the electric company has even set eyes on that particular pole in 15 years or more. It’s pure neglect, it’s in pieces like rotted wood is.

    Granted in my area maintenance is a challenge, but they seem to do a poor job of it. Plus they want to ditch 70%+ of their generation (they want to stop using coal within 10 years lol). They have spent the last two decades wanting to become a national natural gas pipeline company (largely failing at that too).

    There is no way in hell they can replace 75% of their generation AND upgrade their distribution at the same time. A well run company would struggle to do either of those, and they are far from being well run.

    Hopefully this nonsense will end before it kills more automakers. Those little companies don’t have much to tide them over though, even ones with bigger corporate parents.

    • Rich, that’s the plan: The rationing and gradual elimination of personal transportation. IC cars have already become so onerous, what with being so complex that they are no longer viable to repair after the warranty runs out; insurance keeps rising; badged highway men lurking everywhere to snag you for hundreds of dollars for the least little trifling thing; etc. etc.

      Add to this now “Can’t charge the car tonight, honey- there’s another brown-out” or “….it’s peak rate time” (at 3 AM when everyone is charging their car)….

      Older viable cars are going to be more expensive than a Maserati; and what crappy new (electric) cars do exist, will be in short supply, as a lot of the manufacturers are going to go down because of this.

      It’s a plan intended to fail.

  19. Presumably, unlike modern disposable BMWs and Benz’s, one would assume that someone who buys a car as expensive as a Maserati or a Putz, would be concerned with it’s long-term value. When these things go electric, say goodbye to long-term durabily, and hello to short-term obsolescence- as the technology of one sold today will seem ancient 10 years from now- and much more so 15, 20 or 30 years hence.

    How long will the manufucturers continue to update the software? Longer than the mass-market co.s because they’re expensive cars with loyal followings? Probably not. They’ll probably abandon them even sooner, because they won’t want to be associated with the quickly obsolete technologies of “today’s” car, tomoorow- and with such companies always being on the bleeding edge of the latest & greatest, things will change even faster among their models, to keep them current, than they change with the mass-market manufucturers.

    And then there’s the batteries….. Just how long of a range will that Maserati have if one drives it like a Maserati??? 50 miles?

    I CAN’T believe they are all hopping on the electric bandwagon-to-hell. This is going to be the pivotal event which causes the downfall of the worldwide auto industry…. Just watch and see.

    • They will be like an old* smart phone. Once its past its second birthday, it damn hard to get it serviced if it breaks. All they do is try to sell you a new one…….

      Electric cars already have faster deprecation. It will be even worse for the present ones if something really does make them better.

      *once they stop selling it new, you know its time is counting down fast. Companies like Apple don’t service 15 year old equipment like they used too, so why would an automaker be different?

  20. Speed isn’t everything, you can enjoy the sound of a Porsche or Maserati driving through town just as much as you can enjoy the sound as you rev it, plus you can take them wherever you want without having to worry about range anxiety

    Besides that, how about the handling characteristics and the soul, what really separates the battery from the E-mission there from a Telsa?

    I think this fad will eventually pass, I just hope it’s sooner rather than later, since I’m tired of the Globalists and their Agenda 21

    • Amen, Zane.

      My Trans-Am may not be as quick as a new Camaro SS, but the sound of the big ol’ 455 sucking air through the QJet is its own reward…

      • I gotta ’07 A4 Quattro, took it from NJ to NH twice, manual.

        It’s St…3? JHM with a FI exhaust, you can hear it from a mile away now (Drones, but could be worse). Still a few things I wanna do to it, but it’s got more soul and character than any of these electric cars could ever have, even if it did lose some efficiency (JHM HPFP/LPFP means at a quarter, it’s outta gas, but considering the trade off, who cares)

        Older cars with less electronics and stuff are more unique to me, hence why now a days, used cars that were a ton cheaper are now appreciating

  21. The problem is that over the last few decades the difference that most buyers care about is the badge and the look.

    So many of these cars are owned by people who just want to show off. They couldn’t care less about any thing else.

    Yesterday at the grocery store, a Porsche parked right up in the front of the parking lot. And as we know anyone who cares about their car does not park in the front of the grocery store parking lot.

  22. So, I’m curious when an electric is going to compete in formula one? Indy? Le Mans? Hmm at Tesla at Lemons… how can I fake a $500 purchase price? Elon, want to give me one for 499?

    Seriously, racing has made all the real progress in cars we use today. Even against the toxic headwinds of bureaucratic dictates. When an EV competes respectably with IC technology, then it will be legitimate. Until then, not so much.

    • They have “Formula E” for electric race cars. The first time I watched one of their races I thought it was pretty cool, until it was time for a pit stop. Instead of coming down pit road for a battery charge or even a battery change they high tailed it to the garage area, pulled in, jumped out of the car and into a completely different fully charged car to complete the race. I was like WTF and threw the bullshit flag on the concept.

      That right there proves why electrics are not ready for prime time.

  23. I build custom cars for a living and couldn’t agree more. Electric cars may have the look and performance (both debatable) but are missing the personality of sound and feel. The auto makers are getting off easy, however, by transferring all the trouble of meeting emissions compliance to the electric companies and the simplicity of an electric driveline which will make for a big boost in their profit margins.

  24. The sound of your engine, the appearance of your car are all very individualistic driven markers. I care a lot about what my exhaust note is, how my car looks, as it is a reflection of me. What my mileage is, my HP, etc.
    Again the Orwellian drive by Big Gov and Big Auto is to proletariat-ize everyone into a silent humming box with no uniqueness at all. Gov gets control, Big Auto gets the money.

  25. Eric – “But maybe exotic EVs will sell.”

    Does not matter if they sell. Laws will be passed and your choice will be electric, massive ICE use surcharge, or walk.

    Ideology trumps reason, reality, practicality (elec. grid)…… well, everything. We live in a world where magical thinking is mainstream. Though thinking might be giving too much credit. Presuming? Hallucinating?

  26. VR to the rescue!

    VW is not alone. The new BMW M5, which ditched the sonorous V-10 for a twin-turbo V-8, plays an engine soundtrack through the car’s audio system. From a carmaker’s perspective, these active sound generators have definite benefits over a sound pipe: There’s no need to cut a hole in the firewall or package a separate tube in the already crowded engine bay. Plus, the active devices allow a far greater degree of tunability and can be used to mask unwanted noise.


    In 10 years we’ll take our Real Doll (search for it, very NSFW) out on a date to the latest “feelies” in our M5…

        • Why?
          Because the dolls are seen as something which keeps men away from most of the financial traps that benefit women. They’ll say things like ‘the doll cannot consent’ and other nonsense to relate it to rape, but the real reason is that they fear men won’t enter into the modern marriage contract or become unwilling sperm donors.

          • Hi Brent,

            I joke around with my divorced (male) friends about the “Japanese Sex Robot” but the truth is we’re all tempted. If they ever get to the point of being plausibly real we’d be all in. Why not? Sex without the hassles – and the threat. She doesn’t bitch at you, never decides she’s “not happy” – and has an Off switch.

            What could be better?

        • For the same reason most women are against prostitution.

          Competition and loss ‘pussy power’ over men.

          IMO the doll thing seems, odd. But not wrong, if that is what someone wants.

      • Ugly and bitter (possibly both) women can’t make men miserable if no ones paying attention to them

        Dolls are a good idea, just look up The DC doll house (us) and find yourself a better lover xD


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