Recently, Bill Nye wrote a blog post about how NASCAR should go electric and embrace the future rather than sanctioning racing that people actually want to watch. Now, he has upped the ante by responding to a fan asking about classic cars, future technology, and how they fit together.
The fan, Elijah Bender’s specific questions were:
Do you think, in the future, building classic cars and performance engines will be something that we just have to give up? Or is there hope for gearheads like me who also want to be environmentally responsible? Are things like ethanol and other biofuels viable options?
Nye’s answer presents an interesting perspective—an admittedly purely objective one, and there may be truth to it on a simply quantitative basis. HOWEVER, if he were right in every sense, we’d all be driving cars built in 2015 and every last ’65 Mustang would’ve long since been recycled or crushed. Setting aside electric cars for a moment, all other cars in fact, and I think every single person can agree that the 2016 Mustang is better than the ‘65 version in every single measurable way.
But, that gets to the heart of it—people still like to grill even though microwaves exist, people buy vinyl records despite access to millions of digital albums, and people still drive cars from before the turn of the LAST century. And that speaks to something that can’t be quantified—emotion. Whether right or wrong, people aren’t rational. And while the Tesla might be a vastly better experience quantitatively, there are those who think it pales qualitatively.
Furthermore, the Tesla Model S, while a convenient, high-performance example, is too expensive for most people, leaving a handful of poorly performing also-rans in every meaningful, numerical comparison save fuel efficiency and smugness.
And that’s where “The Science Guy” missed the point of Mr. Bender’s question. And while I’m not an engineer, I believe heartily in the future of electric cars too—to a point. They’re great for commuters and should be embraced; however, asking people to abandon cars used specifically for the experience they provide for a different experience is optimistically absurd.
To answer your question Elijah, no, people will not have to simply stop building classics and working on engines. Their use may be governmentally curtailed or limited in some way, but ensuring that the collector car hobby thrives is our responsibility. All of us. And that includes acknowledging that alternative power sources are the future, while recognizing that a Nissan Leaf provides a vastly different experience from a Mustang with a V-8.