The internal combustion engine is forever… at least until the electric motor proliferates fully and take over the automotive landscape. For now, like fervent NRA gun owners, you will take the gasoline engine from my cold and dead body.
An enormous factor to driving enjoyment is the sweet sounds emanating from the engine bay (preferably from a natural-aspirated motor), and as we all know, the electric motor merely hums; it’s so quiet that the government have to implement in sound regulations just so blind persons on a sidewalk are able to detect an oncoming vehicle.
The lack of noise is not a knock against electric cars: having ridden in a Tesla I think they are fantastic, and crucially far kinder to the fragile environment. For a car enthusiasts however, electric is a bit of a one trick pony: its accelerative properties are face-tearing and world-beating indeed, but in terms of driving fun, that’s really about it. Until they’ve engineered more energy density into the batteries, these two-ton electric cars can’t possible dream of handling like a traditional sports car.
Not that that matters to the general public. It’s been reported that in the last quarter, Tesla outsold the venerable Mercedes-Benz in America, so there’s proper appetite for these lumbering electric barges. Mercedes-Benz have taken notice, and will soon produce the EQC, the company’s first ever completely electric car. Audi will be entering the market as well with the e-tron SUV. BMW isn’t likely to delay much longer in delivering an electric SUV in its “i” family of vehicles.
Jaguar is wondering why isn’t anybody noticing their all-electric I-PACE that’s on sale now.
No surprise the big three German luxury automakers have elected the SUV as platform of choice for their respective EVs. It’s a smart move: sports-utilities of all shapes and sizes are flying off dealer lots, leaving the traditional sedans in the rear-view. Also important is that Tesla currently hasn’t got an SUV in its lineup (the Model X is a glorified minivan), so that’s a market opportunity to capitalize on.
With mainstream auto manufacturers joining the Tesla market, does this signal the beginning of the mass proliferation of electric-vehicles? Will the combustion engine soon be relegated to the halls of automotive museums? I reckon it is indeed the beginning of the shift, but the trajectory will be immensely long. The technology and infrastructure is not yet competitive against the typical gas station. Until a car can be fully charged from empty in less than 10 minutes, and one doesn’t need to strategically plan just to find a station, the electric car will remain a very nice novelty.
Because there’s also the matter of entry cost: the current crop of electric cars capable of going beyond 200 miles on a single “tank” (sorry, Nissan Leaf) are beyond the reach of the typical customer. Over 17 million cars are sold in America each year; it’ll take quite some time and effort before electric-vehicles will show up on the pie-chart.
My beloved internal combustion engine will be here to stay for a long time.