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What do electric car drivers regret most about leaving petrol behind?

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Cleantechnica

cleantech1Media, both social and antisocial, has been full of articles and first-person accounts with people raving about how much they love the experience of driving their electric cars. They talk about how wonderful it is to wake up to a full gas tank, how quiet it is, the instant and no-fuss torque, and how cheap electric cars are to operate.

But what do electric car drivers miss about owning and driving gasoline cars? That’s an empty space, a void, a yawning chasm. This article tries to add some words to that side of the scale.

This is one man’s personal and subjective list of things he regrets about the transition.

That pleasurable and lengthy period of anticipation between when you slam your foot to the floor cleantech2and actual acceleration commences. There’s just no buildup in electric cars, so all of the anticipation dwindles. Personally, I’m a creature of delayed gratification, so this really rankles.

The smell of gasoline baked into hot tarmac at gas stations. Like the odour of diesel emissions, unfiltered Camel cigarettes, or the smell of hot tar being melted onto roofs, this really hits a nostalgic spot in my nostrils, even as my lungs collapse into hacking coughs. Sometimes I drive to gas stations to pump up my tires when they don’t need it just to inhale deeply of that intoxicating aroma.

Slow warmth in the winter from waste heat. Like acceleration, the slow and gradual warming of a car as the engine throws off 70% of the energy in the fuel as waste heat is just part of the attraction. Instant-on heating with electrics just doesn’t have the same sensation. And trying to get the calibration right when you are basically just pushing cold air past a big, inefficient, thumping block of metal? There’s nothing like slowly and painfully learning the quirks of each car.

Brakes that just get hot. This is like all of the waste heat that engines throw off, in that braking used to tirebe something that was done solely by rubbing pads against rotors of various types, heating them up and making them warp when driven through water or cleaned. They used to do nothing else, and certainly not generate fuel. That exotic single purpose plus attendant waste was a delicious thing.

The faux outrage at the expense of all of the repairs and maintenance. When I saw a muffler bill for hundreds of dollars, I could get red, stamp my feet and shout at the schlub behind the counter. It was all to no avail, but it made me feel good. Now, with electric cars, the opportunities to feel outraged, superior, and vent have diminished substantially! No brake jobs. No oil jobs, 17 point or otherwise. No muffler jobs. Thankfully, I have to replace the tires a bit more often due to all of that instant acceleration.

clean tech 2Mysterious visits to the sales manager. Oh, the joys of sitting in a dealership waiting for a salesman to return with news about whether my latest bargaining ploy was accepted, rejected, or spun to their advantage. For that matter, add in all of the pleasant hours spent in dealerships trying to get past the thickets of upsells and the like. Barriers make eventual success all the sweeter, and one of the biggest barriers to owning a new car is the sales process. So sadly missed, now that Tesla has cruelly eliminated dealerships and allows me to pick exactly and only what I want, without fuss, muss, or haggling.

Worrying about running out of battery. Accidentally leaving the lights or radio on used to mean a lengthy wait for the AAA truck. That was a deep learning experience, and a rite of passage for young people learning to drive. Now you can camp overnight in a Tesla with the air conditioning running all night and the battery barely budges. What’s the fun in that? Where’s the teachable moment?

black lungThe health threats. Like smoking, it used to be that cars emitted nasty nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter that could be smelt as they decreased my health and the health of my kids, family, and neighbours. It was my own little “fuck you” to the world and its namby pamby political correctness. Now my car emits nothing. It’s such a letdown. Although, it’s nice to be breathing better I guess.

And yes, the noise. There’s nothing like the shame in coming home late at night after being disreputable and having the growl of your engine make your neighbours’ dogs bark and children cry. Being a faux rebel used to have consequences, and being antisocial used to be audible. Now, the cars and bikes just roll quietly along the street and into the driveway without disturbing a soul. Frankly, I secretly hate my neighbours, but don’t have the guts to just honk the horn loudly at 2:00 AM. My engine used to do that for me and I could pretend to be a good neighbour despite that. My passive aggressive streak has no outlet now.retro

My attachment to obsolete brands. I used to love BMWs. I used to make fun of Porsches but secretly want one. I used to look at futuristic wedge-shaped Lamborghinis and Ferraris and drool. I used to care that Subaru’s were quirky, and think secretly that I should get one for that reason even though I loved my BMWs. Heck, the VW GTI used to make me interested, especially with its dual-clutch transmission. There are so many fewer interesting cars and manufacturers in the world. They are so obviously waiting out their death sentences with their noisy, inefficient, and sluggish drivetrains and their high centres of gravity. I just can’t get excited about them any more and while away the hours looking at car videos and magazines. Thankfully, there are Rimac and Tesla drag racing videos, but like all pornography, the clips are stale after they’ve been watched once.

Source: Cleantechnica. Reproduced with permission.  

  • Alan

    🙂 It reminds me of the time I went to the electric vehicle show in Munich about 5 years ago – and some of the manufacturers were making noise-devices to replicate the old engine noise of their ICE models… madness!

  • John Sheehan

    I miss the mind numbing terror of stalling in the middle of an intersection. Always a favourite 😉

  • Rav Soin

    True for drivers; garages will disappear; need new type of mechanic.

    • Miles Harding

      A Satanic Mechanic!

      With the advances of car reliability and big corporate fuel chains on the highways, the local garages have already largely disappeared.

      My locals never bothered to compete on price, they were a little more expensive for fuel, but consistent, friendly, honest and a good place to go for maintenance and repairs.

      What did seem to kill them were the underground fuel tanks – the current type is much more expensive, double skinned and has to be replaced periodically. After the tanks went, the transition to a repair only garage was tricky and some had such a fall-off in trade that they ended up closing.

      Perhaps, these few remaining rapairers will be better matched to the limited maintenance needs of EVs. A joy for the mechanic, not having to deal with oily wrecks all the time.

  • Mark Melocco

    Even though I have an electric pump and built in tyre pressure monitors I still go to the gaspetrol station to check my tyre pressures regularly. I like to re-live that special camaraderie shared by ICE owners when they feel they are being ripped of by an oil company. The fact that I’m the only one there not being ripped off does spoil it a bit, but it helps me to remember.

  • Ren Stimpy

    EV owners who miss the noise of an engine can make their own engine noises like the Crazy Frog does – a ring ding ding ding dada-ding-ding POW dommm dadomm dom bommmmmmmmm

  • handbaskets’r’us

    People scratch their heads and say: “no noise! -What’s the point of that…?”
    Fact is we were somehow very comforted by all the little things mentioned above.
    We love our cars and that’s what cars do, -or used to do, why change?
    Everybody hates change.

  • Rod

    Lengthy anticipation = turbo lag, a pet hate among some ICE drivers
    Brake pads that will last as long as the vehicle and very few visits to a mechanic.
    Gotta love that
    My ICE came with a resonator to give the engine a more sporty noise.
    I couldn’t hear it over my after market exhaust so ripped it out.
    I agree, my appreciation of high end ICE cars has diminished. I cycle past an aftermarket bodywork shop that specialises in Ferrari etc. and don’t envy them at all.
    They have no idea how much fun I’m having on my souped up electric bicycle

  • Peter Campbell

    Re “That pleasurable and lengthy period of anticipation between when you slam your foot to the floor and actual acceleration commences.” The motor controller in my 7yo DIY converted car can be plugged into a PC to adjust various parameters such as the delay time and ramp of the ‘throttle’ response. I could program in a delay and sluggish response if I wanted it. Actually, the Mitsubishi iMiEV, our newer EV, does have a factory programmed soft takeoff. If you floor it, it feels held back till it is doing a few 10s of kph, then it takes off.

    Something passengers miss for the first time is that the car does not announce getting ready to move with noisy engine cranking. Instead, as soon as my passenger is seated, I move off, and they are generally surprised. People are trained to expect getting ready noises before the car moves.

    • Miles Harding

      The i-Miev’s initial reluctance to accelerate took some getting used to! Now I know to simply not try it. Coupling the accelerator to the front proximity sensors would be good, except the ‘i doesn’t have any of that fruity stuff.

  • Michael Dufty

    Does he have an electric car? The flat battery thing is still possible with many electric cars, including the Tesla I think, as they use a small lead acid auxiliary battery to power up the system that connects the main one, and that can go flat if you leave the lights on, leaving you unable to access all that electricity stored in the drive battery.

    • Mark Melocco

      In a Tesla the lights are automatic and the DC-DC inverter tops up the auxiliary battery from the main traction battery when needed. This only becomes a problem if you let the traction battery go flat and the car will remind you many times before this occurs. You can then power the car down from the touch screen to stop drain on the auxiliary battery whilst you wait for a tow. Should you be silly enough to let both the traction and auxiliary batteries go flat than you can jump start the auxiliary battery on 2 posts behind the nosecone. Not sure where this is on the new model without nosecone though.
      With a full traction battery you can run lights, music and AC for – days.

      • Michael Dufty

        Is the DC-DC converter on the Tesla operating when the car is turned off? That is the problem on the i-MiEV, if the auxiliary goes flat while the car is turned off, it is impossible to power up the DC-DC converter and recharge it from the traction battery. I thought I had read that Teslas had the same issue when I was researching solutions. The i-Miev lights are supposed to be automatic too, but didn’t stop me from having to “jump start” it after a week away recently.

        • Mark Melocco

          Hi Michael,
          Have left my Tesla in the garage for 6 weeks without intervention whilst overseas so I would say yes it does charge the Auxiliary battery regularly even with the car ‘off’. The auxiliary battery issues were a bad batch of 12 Volt batteries on early cars I understand. My late 2014 Model S is still on its first auxiliary battery with no signs of any issues so far.

  • John McKeon

    You really should have posted a sarcasm alert … at least at the end of the piece. There are some very sensitive souls out there. 🙂

  • r121

    Of course I miss torque steer and all the clunking sound like a stream engine.