[By Nic Lindh on Friday, 10 March 2023]
There’s a lot of talk about electric cars these days, as their time is clearly upon us. Lots of forwards and backwards on whether they’re better of worse for the environment and whether the electric grid can handle them, etc. etc. ad nauseam.
I do get why people whose livelihoods are directly impacted by electric cars, like people at dealerships who make way less money off electrics since they need much less maintenance than Internal Combustion Engine cars, are not fans at all. But we are also in a moment as a civilization where getting all frothing at the mouth about things that have no bearing on your own life is normalized and even something that can make you rich, so I get why there are people who are not directly affected at all spending a lot of energy tilting at the electric car windmill.
But you know all this. What I’m here to talk about today is how much fun electric cars are and how future they feel. We’re clearly not going to have the flying cars we were promised in my lifetime, but hey, as a consolation price the electric cars are pretty nice!
I’m writing this coming up on two years as the owner of a 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV, a car I picked up during the frenetic summer of 2021 when the supply lines were crashed and both new and used cars were almost impossible to find for purchase. Just adding that here in case the traumatic experience of spending oh so many evenings refreshing car dealer sites looking for incoming vehicles has tainted my experience with the Bolt.
But I don’t think so. And let it be said that my main and overriding concern that made me look for an electric car during those awful months was not altruistic, oh no, it was simple and selfish: I wanted to commute in the HOV lane. In Arizona, electric vehicles get the magic plates that allow you to drive in this little piece of heaven.
Now that I’ve commuted in electric style for almost two years, the main thing that confuses me in the entire discussion about electric cars, as alluded to above, is how nobody seems to be talking about how fun they are. The Bolt EUV, as an example, is a super mundane Chevy people mover. This is not an “enthusiast” vehicle by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a budget Chevy for crying out loud.
But guess what, it’s super fun! The Bolt goes like a go-cart and smokes V8s off the line like it’s from the future.
There’s no engine noise. No vibration. No heat. Just a slight whine from the future to let you know the motors are throbbing.
The quiet of the cabin even throws off the stereo volume algorithm, making it turn up the volume more than necessary at highway speeds. This algorithm is clearly tuned for the cabin decibel levels caused by an Internal Combustion Engine, so it’s louder than it should be. Which is obviously a massive first-world problem to have and I smile a bit every time I have to turn the volume down at highway speed.
There’s also no stop-start at stoplights. Much as I appreciate the thought behind making gasoline engines turn off while the vehicle is stationary, it’s always a bit disconcerting when the engine just cuts out. Will it start again? Guess we’ll find out when the light turns green!
With an electric, that’s a complete non-issue.
And did I mention the torque? The ungodly torque that gives you all the horsepower from standing still? Because if nothing else in this world will put a smile on your face, it’s having your staid people mover blast off like a fighter jet.
It is funny though to watch the grilles on electric vehicles. It seems that not having a grille is super uncomfortable for car designers.
Look at the Bolt at the top of this page. Look at what they did to my boy, the grille. A piece of dented plastic to cover a regular grille? Really? That was the best you could do? Dented plastic? And with the exception of Teslas, they’re all like that!
The BMW designers are probably the worst afflicted, deciding whatever, hippie, we’re keeping the hideous beaver teeth grille on the electrics as well as the petrol cars. Screw you, hippies with no understanding of the noble history of the gasoline engine who’ve probably never even cried at the beauty of the first-place finisher at Nürburgring. Smelly, smelly hippies. Eat grille!
Tesla is still the only manufacturer that seems to have been able to find designers who aren’t in a state of shock regarding what to do about the front end of the car. Just look at a Tesla grille. It’s nice, an obvious front of the vehicle.
We’ll know the traditional car manufacturers are serious about electric cars when they manage to not biff it with the grilles.
While they try to figure it out, let’s enjoy cars that are super-agile just as a byproduct of their engines.