Why do people buy electric cars?
It isn’t to save money (ridiculous) or save the planet (fatuous) though some EV buyers believe – in the religious sense – that they are doing one or the other or both.
No. People buy EVs because they are quick and flashy.
We’d find out how quickly they wouldn’t buy them if they weren’t.
Elon Musk’s insight was that very few people want to drive an ugly, slow electric car – and won’t, irrespective of how much money it would save them (and the planet, too). On the other hand, people will spend a lot money on a car that’s quick and stylish.
Musk made one that was both – and electric – using a high-performance Lotus sports car as the basis for his first model. All of a sudden people wanted to buy an electric car. The electric part being the “beard” part.
The subsidies and mandates have helped, of course. But – fundamentally what has made the whole EV push feasible, as a practical matter, is that the EVs being made today are only incidentally electric vehicles. They are primarily high-performance/luxury vehicles that happen to be electric.
Speed really is a question of money. How fast do you want to go? And how much are you willing to pay?
Not just in dollars, either.
The EV owner’s paradox – if he’s thought about it – is that the main attribute he bought the thing for (its quickness, so he could brag about that to other people while preening about how green he is) is the one attribute the law says he’d better not use.
And physics says he’d better not use much, if he’d prefer not to wait, a lot.
“Speeding” is, first of all, illegal.
So why is it being encouraged?
All new EVs (and most new cars) have speed limit assist technology embedded in their works. It flashes a dashboard warning light that looks like a miniature speed limit sign that flashes red whenever you go faster than whatever the speed limit is. Which the system knows – just as it knows how fast you are going in relation to it. In Europe, they have the fully enabled version that automatically prevents you from going faster than whatever the speed limit says you may.
The throttle pushes back; the brakes push down – without you pushing on them.
It’s not just exceeding the speed limit that’s illegal, either. Also rapid acceleration, which can be characterized by a cop (and the courts) as “reckless” driving. Most commercially driven trucks already monitor – and report – vehicle speed in relation to legally allowable speeds and also such parameters as braking and acceleration, both of which are characterized as “aggressive” (and actionable, by the company) if other-than-done slowly.
This tech is already embedded in all new battery powered devices – that is, electric cars. Which you could also accurately call remote-control cars, because they can be. So also most new cars, generally.
All of them being connected cars.
The point is that they can monitor and control your driving – and (as regards the latter) already do, to some extent. There is Brake Assist, which applies the brakes when the car thinks necessary, if you have not. Lane Keep Assist, which jerks the steering wheel back toward your travel lane if you did not signal before beginning a turn or follow the painted lines exactly – wherever they lead. All of this could become more than just “assistance” whenever the people who can already remotely control your car decide to do just that.
So what’s the point of buying an EV that touts how quickly it can get to 60 (and beyond) when you can’t do that. Maybe the car could. But it won’t let you. Or it will tell on you.
EVs go very quickly, briefly. Partially because they are very heavy – which they are chiefly because they are carrying around a huge battery and that’s necessary in order to store enough power for the car to be capable of going half as far as an otherwise similar non-electric car, especially on the highway. Well, all that weight (more than 4,000 pounds for a compact-sized car that – absent a huge battery – would weigh 1,000 lbs. less than that) uses up a lot of power. Especially when you use it to get all that weight going, quickly.
It’s like owning a gas-hog V8 SUV – except you can use the V8 in the SUV for all it’s worth because the gas it needs is easy to get and fast to get. Back on the road in less than five minutes. Stomp the gas as much (and as hard) as you like. Yes. you’ll have to stop sooner. But you’ll be back on your way much sooner, too.
But the point of this article is the irony – as regards EVs. Quick cars that you had better avoid driving quickly that are designed with systems in mind that will make it impossible to go quickly or punish you immediately, if you do.
Why not date your sister, too?
The hilarity – in terms of the schadenfreude – will arrive when EV owners discover they’re tethered; that they have no choice but to go slow, like all the other schlubs. That the $50,000-plus they spent on their EV might as well have been spent on a Chevette.
And while the latter might not have gotten you there very quickly, it least it (usually) got you there.
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