Questioning EVs and Autonomous control.
The other day I came across one of these:
I'm sure it's not surprising to anyone who lives in a large town, but "out here in the sticks" it's an odd sight. Other than the occasional golf cart, farmers and other people who live in rural areas aren't jumping on the EV bandwagon. No surprise I'm sure, but why should they? What would make an EV appealing to them? The BMW i3 starts at $45K. That's the same price as a really nice truck. The difference is, the truck is something they would use on a daily basis. I'm not sure what the towing capacity of an i3 is, but it's safe to say it's well under that of any F150, Silverado or Ram.
I know what you're going to say, "Tesla intends to make an EV truck. Once he does that the "big 3" will follow behind". OK, but: How much will one cost? How well will it work? How long will the charge last? How long will it take to charge? How much will it cost to charge? How heavy is it going to be? Exactly how far into the Tennessee mud will it sink under all that excessive battery weight? Does it come with a tow truck discount card? Maybe a mail-in rebate on a good winch?
In other words, how is it going to hold up to the real world...
Can a EV truck stay charged through a whole day of dehorning cattle, fixing yards of fencing, driving 30 miles into town while towing a tractor to get repaired, heading back to the ranch to haul multiple trailers full of hay. Then drive out past the gate, (watch the posts) through the pasture, (watch out for the rocks and all those defenseless cows!), then through another gate and down a dry creek bed to that stretch of fence that needs to be repaired... Hurry up and do that, because its 30 miles back into town to pick up Junior from school. We can only manage a quick stop at the Feed Store, because we have to pick up the tractor before the repairman’s shop closes…
These are the kinds of conditions that EV trucks are going to be required to operate in. And they better do a very good job at it, because what they are trying to replace, has already proved worthy of the task. That's because they've been in development for over 100 years.
Lastly, let me talk about autonomous systems in one of these trucks. How would you tell an autonomous truck to do all of the above? Since autonomous cars can't even manage to merge into traffic properly, would one be capable of performing even one of the above tasks? Would it fry it's circuit boards with all of those cows running around it before it figured out which one it was OK to run over? Would it really make your life easier, or would it make it harder to have to tell the truck to do these tasks on the fly? Would it even be possible?
Those in the pro-autonomous camp will say that farmers and the like will still have side-by-sides and they will still have trucks, but how is it going to work when they take that truck into town? Will all non-autonomous cars be forced to carry trackers on them, to tell autonomous cars they are there? Most autonomous defenders will say no to that question, which brings up yet another question. That would mean that autonomous cars are going to continue to carry tech that can sense rogue non-autonomous cars? That would mean, consumers are going to be required to pay the additional cost for equipment on autonomous cars that they will rarely and in some cases never need.
Old MacDonald had a autonomous EV, e-i-e-... I don't think so..
Both electric vehicles and autonomous technology are fields that are full of questions. Questions that no one seems to be asking. Those that extol the virtues of both, seem to be incapable of providing any answers. Simply saying that these problems will be worked out and we just need to accept this as how it's going to be, is infantile. It is incumbent on us, as car lovers, to ask these tough questions of this new technology. Every time I read an EV or autonomous news article, I seem to see the following two phrases used quite often, "they hope to" or "they think it will lead to" used multiple times. That should spur every person, with even the smallest affection for cars, to ask questions.
Here are two questions that I can answer. Both of them directly affect every petrol/gear/rev head on the planet:
Q: What do Old MacDonald and his kind have to do with the average car lover?
A: Just like old Donny, you have a vested interest in making sure public roads stay open to every type of car.
Q: Should any self-respecting car lover be blindly following the EV drum beats?
Just some food for thought.
Keep on Cruisin'!
Just two more things...