Yes, EV Owners Can Be Car Enthusiasts

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Image by Tesla Rentals and ecarTestDrives

There’s a common stereotype on the internet about EV drivers. Supposedly, we are all “iPhone people” and can’t be “real” auto enthusiasts. But is it true?

I’ve seen all of this said in various places online. Our interest in electric vehicles isn’t based in enthusiasm for cars, but our enthusiasm for gadgets. We can’t possibly be “real” automotive enthusiasts. We only like “lifeless” or “soulless” vehicles, and it’s all about getting from A to B. “Real enthusiasts” like the noise of internal combustion engines, the smell of gasoline and exhaust, and the thrill of rowing through the gears, so real enthusiasts would NEVER buy an EV.

While there are probably a variety of motivations for people saying these things, I’m going to have to save that for another article. In this one, I want to explore whether there’s any truth to it. After reaching out to several thousand EV drivers online, I found a very interesting mixture of people and opinions. Yes, the stereotype is sometimes true, or half-true, but often enough, we have people in the EV community who would fit anybody’s definition of a “real” auto enthusiast.

It’s True For Some Owners

Not all stereotypes are useful, but some are true, or are true enough of the time to be useful. There are people who are EV enthusiasts who are only into EVs, don’t too much care about performance, etc. I did find people like this in nearly every EV group I reached out to.

Dennis McWilliams from the Nissan LEAF Worldwide Facebook group said, “Most of the people I’ve met who drive EVs definitely are ‘iPhone’ people. I’ve only met a few gearheads who are into EVs. The stereotype is true. However, gearheads are out there.” Sanjay Biswas from the Tesla Model 3 Owners Club said, “I don’t care about cars I do actually care about technology. I care about software artificial intelligence Technologies but not a petrol head. In my case The Stereotype is correct.” He then added, “My first car was a Prius then I had the Nissan Leaf.”

Some were proud of being gadget people. “Gadget person and proud of it…”, said Juliean Galak in the Tesla Model X Owners Club. Peter Koen of the same group said, “But it’s true, I’m a clearheaded gadget person and don’t want anything to do with a wrench. EV is like finally reaching the age of enlightenment after the barbaric dark ages of ICE.”

Sal Cameli, a member of several Facebook EV groups, said:

I’ve added a 1000 watt stereo to my car.

A Spare tire that does not take up any internal cargo space.

I’ve installed Air Horns in my LEAF.

I’ve installed Door entry lights.

I installed 5 cameras.

I have a sunroof but did not install it. That was too much for me. Cutting into the roof.

When someone else said, “You are the definition of gadget man!”, Sal thanked the other member.

EV-Only Enthusiasts Can Be Car Enthusiasts

Julie Tam with her Tesla Model X

Julie Tam of the Model X Owners Club group summed it up pretty well: “I own a Tesla Model X — the ultimate performance SUV, which outperforms even sports cars. That’s why sports cars want to race me. Actually, the Model X can literally perform — dancing to ‘Wizards of Winter.’ I wasn’t a car enthusiast until I got this car. It’s the smartest, most technologically advanced, most extremely engineered car in the world. The inner workings of all of that make it a work of art.” (emphasis added)

There were a number of other people who expressed similar sentiments across the various groups I reached out to. They weren’t that into cars until they found a car that resonated with them.

Toni Klein of Nissan LEAF Worldwide said, “I don’t turn wrenches, and I love technology, and I love being unique. My car being unique means it has more soul imo!! I love not having a typical cookie cutter car! The local Knoxville EV group owner posts amazing articles about the advancements in EV, and they’re amazing!”

“I’m not sure why EV owners should care about the opinions of those who want to be traditional & old fashioned. But the stereotypes are silly. And I don’t necessarily think they’re negative.”

Brian Weatherall rescues a stranded Renault Twizy.

A good number of respondents told me about their adventures wrenching on EVs. Brian Weatherall, a Nissan LEAF owner, shared a photo of him fixing a Renault Twizy on the side of the road to keep it from being stranded by brake problems. Tony Williams of Quick Charge Power works on a variety of EVs, especially the RAV4 Electric, and has done nearly everything imaginable to them. Many were quick to remind me about Rich Rebuilds, a well-known YouTube channel where Rich salvages wrecked Teslas and returns them to running order.

Tony Williams of Quick Charge Power does nearly everything possible wrenching on EVs.

A number of others went beyond working on late-model EVs and were proud to show off images of their electric conversions of classic cars. Here’s a few of them:

Andre Hut, a LEAF owner, is rather proud of his EV and likes to stoplight race (where legal). “I smash that stereotype every time I’m first at the red light. When it turns green, all the ‘roaring’ cars are left behind in my silent dust. Eventually, some may catch up, as I do not exceed speed limits. But, I’m often first to the next red light, again.”

Many EV Enthusiasts Are ICE Enthusiasts, Too.

I was expecting to hear people tell me about their prior enthusiasm for combustion cars, and I knew that many are into both combustion cars and EVs at the same time. What I didn’t expect was just how many would share this with me. It was far more than I could have imagined.

Some like to turn wrenches on anything with wheels, electric or not. Others like to turn wrenches on their ICE cars but like the welcome break of owning an EV for a daily driver that they don’t have to mess with. There were also many owners who daily drive the EV to save money or for environmental reasons, and still love to race, build, or work on combustion cars.

There were far too many to discuss them all, or even come close, so I decided to put together a collage of all of the combustion cars that EV owners are proud to show off.

The Stereotype Doesn’t Hold Terribly Well

While there are EV enthusiasts who are gadget people, and EV enthusiasts who like EVs and are excited about cars in general, there are people in the EV community that are into every facet of the automotive hobby. We race, we work on cars, and many of us are into ICE cars of all eras. Wherever you fall, don’t let anybody tell you that you aren’t a “real” car person.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1984 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba