Have you ever heard the story about Robert Johnson at the crossroads?
Johnson was a blues man, back in the ‘20s. The story goes he acquired his skill as a blues man by signing a contract with Legba – a term now out of currency for you-know-who.
The Devil, in case you don’t.
Johnson sold his soul to play the blues.
What has this to do with cars?
Another interesting crossroads approaches.
Electric cars are mostly sold on their speed – since it’s hard to sell them on their cost or their practicality, which is much too high (and much too low) respectively. Elon Musk, for example, is very boastful about the Ludicrous Speed his EVs are capable of.
And, they are.
The Model S sedan is one of the quickest cars ever made – even vs. race cars. It can get to 60 in less than 3 seconds, which is . . . Ludicrous Speed. The thing is a rocket.
Ludicrous Speed is something worth spending money on – regardless of practicality or efficiency. People have done so for years. Porsche’s entire business was built on the concept.
But what happens – to EVs – if that one advantage goes away?
What if a Tesla can’t go any faster than a Corolla – but is unable to go as far as one? And takes at least 5-6 times as long (a minimum of 30-45 minutes) to get going again?
And costs at least twice as much – but only lasts half as long?
An EV’s battery life determines the EV’s useful life. Once the battery needs to be replaced, it’s time to recycle the car – because of the cost of the battery vs. the worth of the car; this happens after about eight years. Actually, sooner – because before batteries croak entirely they lose efficiency partially. Which means whatever the range of the car was when it was new it is less now.
Which means you spend even more time recharging. Eventually – inevitably – the EV can’t be recharged at all. It becomes functionally and economically kaput.
An IC -powered car has a useful life of 15-20 years. Its range never declines during this time and it always takes the same time (not more time) to refuel.
There’s the “green” aspect, of course. But most of this is just posturing by affluent virtue signalers who wouldn’t be caught dead in something slow and unglamorous. Elon understands this.
Most people who spend substantially more for a car expect . . . substantially more.
Of something other than what they paid.
Of something other than impracticality.
A slow EV – or at least, one that’s no faster than any other car – is a car that is going to be a hard sell.
Which it will, almost inevitably- because it’s already on its way.
Speed Limit Assist, as it is styled (more here) will become de facto standard in cars sold here, even if it’s not formally mandated.
Because it’s been mandated in Europe.
For the same reason Daytime Running Lamps are de facto standard equipment in most new cars.
It is less trouble to manufacture cars one way rather than two ways. If Audi and VW and Porsche and BMW and Mercedes and Fiat and Land Rover and Jaguar and Mini are required by EU law to install speed limit “assist” their cars – because they are European brands and so subject to European laws – they are going to subject us to the same.
They will do so on the making-of-lemonaid-from-lemons principle.
The speed limiting “assist” will be marketed as a saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety feature, of a piece with things like Lane Keep “assist” and automated brake “assist” and other “assists,” which you may have noticed are very quickly becoming de facto unavoidable in new cars, here and everywhere else.
Bear in mind the power (Darth Vader voice) of the Safety Cult – and the supine poltroonery of the car industry. How it eagerly presents its belly at the first sign of complaint or criticism on any matter claimed to be related to saaaaaaaaaaaafety.
It is a dogma of our times that “speeding” – and “aggressive” acceleration – are the apotheosis of unsafe.
Do you suppose, given the tech is now available to prevent it, that any manufacturer of cars will be able to continue selling cars that lack the tech?
For the children, of course.
And because it will save at least one life.
This, when it comes to pass, will be the ruin of all cars – as other than Transportation Modules. Because it will be the end of driving. At least, it will be the end of any point to it.
But it will be Just Desserts for Elon, et al – who rent-seeked the EV into the monstrosity it has become, as opposed to what it might have been.
Government mandates – and government (taxpayer) money perverted the idea of developing EVs as more economical, more practical alternatives to conventional cars into a grotesque burlesque of the virtue-signaling rich mulcting the not-rich to finance glamour and glitz and . . . Ludicrous Speed.
Somewhere, Legba is smiling.
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