Electric vehicles can’t compete with the thrill of internal combustion
As a baby boomer, I grew up in the age of cars with fat tires, monster engines, loud mufflers, and Friday and Saturday nights going up and down St. Germain Street in St. Cloud, until ’til the Ring Road ruins everything.
Detroit muscle ruled America’s roads and the cars were cool. Specialty stores like Crown and Champion Auto provided us with performance equipment to improve them and allowed us to customize them. The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Thrush mufflers, Simonize car polish and the occasional drag race defined who we were. Oh, and don’t forget the gum-chewing girls who asked, “Is this your car, can you take me for a ride?”
Can you imagine all of this happening with electric cars? No more window-slamming exhaust or cut-out headers, no more fire-and-smoke-breathing 426 hemis. Just a quiet whoosh as the car takes off from a green light, not sounding like Chevy Impalas or Nissan Sentras.
The other day, as I waited for a traffic light to change, a light mist fell, a newer Mustang pulled out of a side street. The driver pressed the accelerator, which caused the car to fish a little. He let go of the accelerator, corrected the attitude of the car, then pressed the accelerator again. The vehicle rolled down County Road 75 as if propelled by a rocket launcher. I could hear the throbbing exhaust as the driver continued to accelerate for a good half mile.
Well done, well done, I thought to myself, looking at the Tesla sitting next to me. I wondered what the driver of the expensive electric car was thinking. His hair was gray so he looked my age, but he wasn’t smiling. I had to wonder what he was doing in those glory days. Maybe he was driving a Volkswagen.
Anyway, the moment the light turned green, I was inspired by the Mustang driver. I shoved my throttle down to send fuel to my 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that powers my Chevy Equinox. My dual exhaust rumbled a bit and I was nearly a block ahead of the Tesla in seconds.
Sure, there will be people laughing about it, but remember that in the decades of the 50s and 60s, turbocharged four-cylinder Offenhauser engines ruled the day at the Indianapolis 500.
I will admit that the day will come when electric cars and trucks will fill America’s highways and back roads. After all, Walmart Corporation is already preparing to buy electric semi-tractors from Tesla.
Today, electric car prices are on the steep side for the average car shopper, and Consumer Reports just published an article stating, “Electric vehicles have significantly higher rates of trouble than internal combustion vehicles over the model years 2019-2021”.
The other thing I’m wary of is taking an electric vehicle on a trip. There aren’t many charging stations in the country, so you might have to wait your turn when you find one. Also, it can take a long time to charge your vehicle. According to EnergySage.com, if you have the NEMA 14-50 charger, a full charge can take 17-18 hours. A 240 volt wall plug can cut the time to 6-9 hours, and a super charger, if you can find one, can cut it to 60-90 minutes. It only takes 10 minutes with my Equinox.
Fully charging a Tesla Model S containing a 410-mile long-range battery will cost you about $15.29, depending on where you charge in the United States, based on the price per kilowatt hour. Yes, it’s much cheaper than filling up my Equinox at the gas pump, but I can find a gas pump on almost any street corner.
Being a child of the 60s, I’m not ready to give up my gas-powered vehicle just yet. I hope there will always be a manufacturer who thinks we should have a choice. They will have my things.
— So says Gerry Feld, whose column is published the second Sunday of the month. He writes on issues from a conservative perspective and is a published novelist.