American car executives keep insisting that there is no trade-off between saving the planet and having a hell of a good time behind the wheel. “What I find particularly gratifying,” Ford’s executive chair, Bill Ford, said in April as he unveiled his company’s new electric truck, “is not only is this a green F-150, but it’s a better F-150 … You’re actually gaining things that the internal combustion engine doesn’t have.” Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, sounded equally bullish in a recent social-media post: “Once you’ve experienced an [electric vehicle] and all it has to offer—the torque, handling, performance, capability—you’re in.”
The pitch is enticing, but it raises a few questions. Is the electric F-150 Lightning “better” than the conventional F-150 if its added weight and size deepen the country’s road-safety crisis? And how, exactly, are electric-vehicle drivers going to use the extra power that companies are handing them?…
Converting the transportation system from fossil fuels to electricity is essential to addressing climate change. But automakers’ focus on large, battery-powered SUVs and trucks reinforces a destructive American desire to drive something bigger, faster, and heavier than everyone else.
And that question raised in conjunction with what smallish discussion there is among American consumers about battery-electric cars…sounds like, feels like, every discussion I’ve wandered into about more power, different power methods, in the last seventy years of my life. Not that the discussion originated with me. That just covers the time on this wee planet I’ve spent as a car nut, a hot rodder, sports car jockey and rally car navigator.
I honestly feel it’s over-emphasized in the article. Excepting me, my immediate and even somewhat-extended portions of our family are fairly representative consumers of automotive gear. Most of our vehicles are US-made cars and pickup trucks. They already include a few hybrids…usually driven as designed with a significant portion of all driving done on electric power. We can announce our “gas mileage” is 50 or 70 or 90 miles per gallon (today, in fact) when we’re out running errands to town in my wife’s Ford Maverick Hybrid.
What I see of the folks in our small community driving hybrids from the host of brands already midway to full-electric commitment, our driving styles haven’t changed a jot from prior. The same holds true of the few Teslas in the neighborhood. Aside from that subtly different nose, that crew is mostly identifiable by the sudden sprouting of solar panels atop their garages.