Speed, it was once said, is a question of money. How fast do you want to go?
The truth is, it doesn’t take all that much money to go fast . . . provided you’re not talking about electric cars.
Let’s say you’ve got about $35k to spend on a new car – which is about what most people who bought a new car last year spent on one. That sum will buy you any of several very speedy cars, including a new Mustang GT (460 horsepower, V8 zero to 60 in just over 4 seconds) or a Dodge Challenger R/T (372 horsepower V8 zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds). It will also buy you a V6-powered family sedan like the Toyota Camry, which can get to 60 in just over 5 seconds.
Much less will still buy a good deal of speed – and fun – in the form of cars like the Mazda Miata ($26,830) or Subaru WRX ($27,495).
About the same sum will buy you a new Nissan Leaf (7.4 seconds to 60 and a lot less fun – not to mention range). Or a Chevy Bolt (about 6 seconds to 60 and a bit more range – with the same extended wait, which isn’t much fun).
If you want electrified speed, you’ll have to spend a lot more to get it.
The new VW ID.4 (is that a name or a serial number?) lists for about $41k.
There isn’t a single new EV that’s available for less than $50k that’s quicker to 60 than the $35k cars mentioned above – and the ones you can buy for about the same $35k are about as quick as the average $30k non-electric car.
six-to-seven seconds or so to 60 being pretty much “par” for new cars, generally.
Speed is, indeed, a question of money. A lot more of it . . . when it comes to electric cars. It takes about $15k more to buy an EV that can equal (or beat) the speed of the $35k non-electric high-performance cars like the Mustang and Challenger mentioned above.
About $10k more to match the speed of sporty $26-28k cars like the Miata or WRX – both of which are also more practical cars, having a range of more than 400 miles, a refill timeof less than five minutes and a probable useful service life of 15-20 years or more.
This raises an interesting point about electric cars.
Or rather, a question – about the way they’re being sold to people. Which isn’t on the basis of their lower price /total ownership costs or greater practicality. Which is as silly an idea as suggesting McDonald’s to someone trying to lose weight.
Indeed, it is precisely because they are expensive and impractical that their supposedly “ludicrous” speed is so loudly touted. So as to quiet any hand-raising regarding the oddity of the proposition that people be made to pay twice as much for cars that don’t go half as far (under best-case conditions) that take at least five times as long to get going, again (also under the best conditions) and which won’t last half as long due to the built-in shorter life of the battery packs that are the heart of all electric cars.
So, sell them speed.
It’s an idea that has always sold well – from the days of the Mercer Raceabout and Stutz Bearcat (now those are proper car names, as opposed to Model 3 and ID.4) to the muscle car era of the ’60s right down to our day, today.
No one likes going slow. Well, almost no one.
There are Prius People.
But they’re paying for that. It’s what they don’t want. The Prius driver wants great gas mileage – and 700-plus miles of range. And to not be tethered to an electrical cord. The Prius delivers. Efficiency and practicality – at an affordable price point.
It wasn’t – it isn’t – a speedy car and so it doesn’t get a lot of eye-batting media coverage, as electric cars do.
But it’s read-the-fine-print-at-super-fast-voice-over-speed coverage.
Isn’t it ludicrous . . . if you can’t afford that speed?
Back in the ’50s, there was the Vincent Black Shadow. It was the speediest motorcycle you could buy . . . if you could afford to buy it. Few could, which made its speed irrelevant to most. It took another couple of decades for Honda and Kawasaki to make speed accessible with their CB750 and Z1900 bikes, respectively. These also touted their superior reliability and durability relative to for-the-rich-only bikes like the Vincent – which never made the ludicrous claim that they were saving the planet.
Speed on four wheels also got a lot more accessible around the same time – in the mid-late ’60s – when all the major American car companies began to offer modern, lightweight and high-output V8 engines in cars almost anyone could afford. And even if you couldn’t – yet – the beauty of that time was that speed was still accessible, since the standard-issue cars of that time often came with V8s that were closely related to the high-performance variants and could be easily upgraded to that status via swapping in a few bolt-’em-on parts, one from the other.
Electrification is upending that. Reversing course to the time when high-performance machinery, whether on two or four wheels, was a perk of affluence. With a difference. The government didn’t subsidize the purchase of Mercer Raceabouts and Vincent Black Shadows. Nor did it stand in the way of those who would subsequently bring such speed – within reach of the average Joe, as it is doing, now.
Much of what is going on now may well be motivated by an ancient human failing – envy.
Empowered by government.
It is not enough for some people to have wealth and the perks thereof. Others must be denied those perks.
When only those who can afford to spend $50,000 and up can experience “ludicrous” speed, such speed will once again become not merely a perk of affluence but a way to poke those who lack it.
. . .
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