By now, if you are reading this, it's pretty much certain that you saw Mr. Slowly's new car, a Tesla Model S. And if you haven't for some odd reason, I'll link the video below this paragraph, it's worth a watch, even though he isn't my boss.... yet. And yes, shameless plug for attention. In it, Captain Slow has few mentions on why we shouldn't just hate the electric car as petrol heads, to which i agree, but i would like to extend more in depth what else these might bring with them in the future.
So, what the hell I'm on about with this nonsense you are talking about?
Well, on key point that James May says in the video, and this is probably the biggest reason why the new car market is what it is now, and why make a lot of petrol heads fuming with hate or at least, mild internet displeasure... We just aren't that many in the grand scheme of things, sure, we might seem thousands and thousands together, but still, compared to the rest of the world, we are a very small fraction. And thus, we end up in a world with diesel SUV's potting on the streets of a city, instead of all kinds of sports cars going blast all the time. Which takes me to the next point.
Most people that currently drive a car, do it out of necessity, plain and simple. They either need something to take them to the daily commute, take the kids to and from the school, do the groceries, work/business trips. To them, the car is necessary evil, in order to make life easier. It's a pretty boring summary of what a car is to some, but it's the reality. To most drivers, their car is an appliance. And that has shaped more or less the market we have now. Cars that are more practical, spacious, and more adapted to different occasions, and thus we get SUV's. Don't get me wrong, i hate most of those things as well, but again, I'm the minority in terms of being a customer.
So, what does this have to do with electric cars?! Well, I'm getting there! Those people that think they need a SUV to do the daily living, are the ones that couldn't care less about their car as long it takes them from A to B, or for daddy to go to the gas station to have 10min to reminisce of when he was single without kids and life ahead seemed so wonderful.... Most of those people don't even know how a car works or to do the proper maintenance on them. How many cases have you heard of some people being surprised that they need to do a oil change annually? There is a reason why some car leases now include maintenance schedules included, the majority don't care about those things, the same most of us don't understand most of the hieroglyphs in a washing machine, we just put it to 40 and let it rip. So, one good point of electric cars, since their maintenance is simpler (to a certain extent), less cars will be neglected, and ICE's better maintained by those who really care, which is great news for the 2nd hand market.
The big Boogeyman of electric cars... Autonomous Driving!!! Uuuuuuhhh....
And I'm glad it's happening. Here's why.
When a person has to do something that has no interest in doing, it's going to make it half-arsed at best. A good example, no matter how much tech and connectivity auto-makers put into their cars, most people still pick up their phones to call, send a text, check Social Media, etc. That behaviour, for me, it's a lot more dangerous than speeding, because, in the latter at least, you are mostly focused on what you are doing. According to some statistics, about 1.6 Million accidents are caused by the use of cellphone while driving.... in the US ALONE!
And cars these days don't help those statistics either, with more and more distractions crammed into their infotainment systems, and touch screens everywhere that demand your visual attention. The one tool absolutely necessary to operate a car, and yet they make it harder to do so.
On the other side, autonomous driving has been advancing more and more, and yes, while still not perfect on all situations, nothing else is... specially people. And between updating a computer to drive better and changing a persons behaviour on something they care less than a new Instagram post by Kim Kardashian... I'll choose the former. If a autonomous system is able to remove those people from being a factual danger to others, by driving them responsibly to their chosen destination, then I'm all for it. But not only that... with autonomous cars, and maybe a future protocol that allows cars to communicate with each other, we can safely eliminate on of the most annoying parts of driving, regardless if you enjoy driving or not: Traffic jams! Imagine now with me, you are in the highway, where you now usually there's always a traffic jam, and you see all cars moving at the same constant speed, in the right lane, and leaving the left completely empty for those you need to go a little faster or are in a emergency... How great would that be?! And sure, maybe they will drive slower on some more fun and twisty roads, but then again, they won't apply brakes any time they encounter a small corner or downhill. And something completely new to BMW's... the use of the blinkers.
Reality check, oil is going to end someday...
So, better start to save it today, for those who want it, i say. The more electric cars on the road, the less fuel is spent worldwide on cars doing redundant city driving to take the kids to school and go to work. The less is spent on the week days, the more can be used on weekend blasts around the countryside, burning it in a track day with your friends, or just enjoy a classic car as you take your loved one to the beach for a nice cruise. To have a dodgy 20 year old Hyundai spending fuel potting around the town for groceries, while it could be used for a weekend coastal driving in a classic 911 or even a Mazda MX-5, makes your petrol heart break, knowing, someday, it will run out.... at least until fully synthetics fuels arrive, but that's another story for another day.
With that as well, enjoying a nice walk in a crowded city won't be so bad as well, because let's be honest, most smog in cities are due to heavy traffic. So, with electric cars plus autonomous driving, the traffic will be able to flow like never before in city centres, without that horrible diesel stench left behind (i live in Europe, and the smells that come out of those things it's horrible).
Some things might come back, thanks to EVs.
And by that, i mean more old school cars.... Let me elaborate with a quote from the living genius himself, Christian von Koenigsegg, back in 2018, to R&T magazine about the future of ICE's:
"(...)even if you produce a hundred cars a year, you won't destroy the planet. If they are driven every Sunday every third month, we’re not gonna kill the planet, right? So therefore, I want to keep it alive. It’s like a Swiss watch, you know. The Casios came in the seventies, and almost killed the Swiss watch industry. Then, they turned towards luxury and hand-made craftsmanship, and they are still thriving."
And i think he couldn't be more right, and with ICE cars, the emphasis on driving will be more important than just straight up the "numbers war" we have right now. Most people now agree we have reached levels we can't even come close to explore in a cars top performance, unless you are extremely talented driver. Electric cars already surpass any ICE in terms of energy efficiency and power delivery, no matter how much you want to deny it, and with the limits of ICE cars being reached, we can go back, and make then enjoyable again to drive them to the (attainable) limit. Manual gearboxes could make a comeback, power-steering can be hydraulic again, beautiful, mechanical watch like dashboard designs, and so on and so forth in the thing enthusiasts actually miss in fun cars. We already see this trend starting, with some companies having a manual option, like Porsche and Aston Martin, they understand that sometimes, numbers aren't everything, as the marketing teams would like you to believe.
The future isn't bleak and all sanitized as we think it will be...
Think of it like this, the car replaced the horse as a mean of transport, and before that, it wasn't uncommon to see horses dead on the streets from exhaustion, tons of manure on the roads, and really expensive to maintain.... Now, they are enjoyed by true enthusiasts and are, in most times, kept healthy, happy and clean, and their owners enjoy them far more than they would back in the early 1900's. Both still exist in the world, and they don't bother each other (with exception of horse carriages, but hey, nothing is perfect), and if much, they are now more appreciated by everyone. The same will happen with ICE cars, people will come together to celebrate truly great cars, share experiences and knowledge, and make the day of someone who in the past, had their dad or mom driving one.
If much, the electric car will act like a coffee filter: it will keep of the trash and muck on one side, and let the warm and flavourful feel of truly enjoying and driving a combustion engined car for those who really appreciate them....
And if you think that horse comparison doesn't make sense, here's some pictures i took while on vacation in my country, during a horse competition... They sure don't look like their are unhealthy. Enjoy.
What's your opinion? Do you think the future will be exciting as plain yogurt?
Leave a comment bellow. Much appreciate for stopping by.