Media, 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 and 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 be 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.
Mysterious 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?
The 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.
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.
I really miss a lot of things about internal combustion cars. What do you miss about them? Share in the comments.