Never Stop Driving #37: EV Gold

Who wouldn’t want a $7500 discount on a new car? That federal tax credit on plug-in electric and hydrogen-fueled vehicles has been around for years and was extended, with new rules, as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Last Friday, the Department of the Treasury clarified the new rules by changing the vehicle type definitions. Now some models that previously were considered cars—subject to a $55,000 price cap—are now, presto! considered SUVs, with an $80,000 cap.

Classifying passenger vehicles is surprisingly tricky. I routinely struggled with that task when I was testing new vehicles at Car and Driver. It’s easy, say, to spot a pickup truck. But what’s the difference between a sedan and coupe? The number of doors? Or is a coupe defined by the space in the rear seat? What about funky three-door Hyundai Velosters, or four-door coupes like the future classic Mazda RX-8? There are always edge cases but now there’s a mile-wide blurred line between SUVs and cars.

These days SUVs are, with obvious exceptions like the Ford Bronco, simply jacked up station wagons and hatchbacks. The distinction is now important for those EV credits. A month ago, Elon Musk complained that the Tesla Model Y was ineligible for the credit because it was not heavy enough to be considered a mid-size SUV. With the recent change, the Model Y is now eligible for the $7500 credit. Another winner is the new Cadillac Lyriq.

2023 Cadillac Lyriq 450E low angle rear three-quarter

The electric Caddy is sold out for 2023 so dealers are now taking orders for 2024. The GM executives I spoke with during the 24 Hours of Daytona told me they wished they could make more. We drove the Lyriq, a terrific EV that puts Cadillac on its stated path to be an all-EV brand by 2030.

Not all current Cadillac owners are happy about this evolution. While at Daytona, I attended a gathering of the V-Club, a group of V-Series Cadillac owners. We’ve reviewed several of these extra-sporty Cadillacs in video and written form and recently published a piece about how this division within a division came to be—passionate enthusiasts within Cadillac were unleashed and allowed to produce some very special cars.

The owners of those cars who were present at the V-Club party did not cheer when Cadillac’s Executive Chief Engineer Brandon Vivian reminded them of the brand’s all-EV future. I wasn’t surprised by this tepid response—after all, they’d gathered for a shared love of tire-smoking gasoline-burners, only to be told that the future will be very different from what they enjoy today. I get it. We all know that the one constant is change, but sometimes change is uncomfortable. Vivian reminded the group that the Lyriq sold out in days.

The LYRIQ interior is clean and simple with a focus on secondary

A heated debate ensued. Many V-Series owners expressed their frustration over an EV future they didn’t ask for and debated the merits of this transition. Oh, man. Vivian—a seasoned and successful club racer who understands enthusiasts because he is one—skillfully steered the crowd to the positives and assured them that future V-Series vehicles would be every bit as entertaining to drive as the current models. One attendee wouldn’t hear it and continued his anti-EV tirade but aimed it at a hapless caterer. His agitation visibly spooked the woman, who asked another staffer to call security and have the man removed. Like I always say, car people are nothing if not passionate.

In other news, we caught up with the very sharp and skillful NASCAR pit reporter Jamie Little, welcomed Ford’s return to Formula 1 with a retrospective of the brand’s F1 history, and visited the underground vault of the fabulous Henry Ford museum. My colleague Kyle Smith listed his picks for must-have garage consumables and dozens of readers weighed in with other useful tips.

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2023 Cadillac Lyriq 450E front three-quarter action

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    Up here in Northern Canada EV’s don’t work well at all, cold weather, gravel roads, heavily salted roads in winter, no infrastructure for plugging in and no cell phone service for many years to come to call some one with a generator to charge the dead battery. You aren’t even allowed to have the vehicle (Krowned) which is oiled to help prevent rust as the salt will eat the car away in 5 years. So EV’s may be good for California but don’t force me to have one in Northern Ontario.

    EVs might be great and some day one might fit for me. The government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in the market. If it can’t stand on its own, maybe it shouldn’t be.

    Loved the underground tour at the Henry Ford. I have seen the museum, but several years ago, and it is a living thing as I’ve learned being a member of the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario. Had hoped they would show more of the 1938 Cadillac 60 Special in the background at a couple of points – we had a 1940 – but it didn’t happen. Someone should check the closed captioning in two places: it’s aero not arrow in the Taurus commentary, and not Della Hay when talking about French cars of note. Tiny things but it says, not a car person, doesn’t it?

    Also, with the shutting down of coal fired generating plants, where is all this electricity to recharge these EV’s going to come from??

    Last week I went to Home Depot to purchase a new two-stroke trimmer. Walking down the aisle I only found battery operated equipment. Asked where I could find the gas powered equipment they pointed to the clearance aisle while mentioning they won’t be getting more. All electric from now on. I bought all of them. People will be shocked when they find out they no longer have a choice. Maybe Henry Ford would have been smart to get horses outlawed, but that would have destroyed his country and his customer base. Let the market decide what it needs. I’m confident the equipment I purchased will be a part of the gas powered Bill Market.

    Sorry Larry, I have unsubscribed. Still a Hagerty client, but for my classic cars only. How many electric classic cars does Hagerty insure? Hmm, I thought so. Please spend my gas-powered premium dollars elsewhere.

    My late father bought his last Caddy at age 93. Perhaps when/if I reach that age I’ll buy a Cadillac Lyriq. Meanwhile, V8’s and manual transmissions for as long as possible

    Of course Cadillac (all of GM really) is drinking the EV Kool-aid — the government said F.U. to bankruptcy court AND the American Taxpayers and bailed them out, keeping the same idiots that drove GM into the ditch behind the wheel. Now those same idiots are hell-bent on driving right back into the ditch, telling their most loyal, passionate customers “you’re so wrong.”

    The elimination of the gas powered Escalade will finally kill it off, and neither Barry, Joe nor any of their fellow utopians will be in 1600 PA Ave to save them this time. If Ford is smart they’ll shove the Coyote into the Navigator and gobble up 90% of the sales.

    I believe the auto companies that are doubling down on EV’s are going to be in for a big unfortunate surprise.

    Larry, you’re correct about car enthusiasts being very passionate souls. Maybe the only topic more so these days is politics! I must say though, from my perspective, and I’m an admittedly older gent, my philosophy on anything new, has largely been to not be an early adopter, but to a wait awhile until all the bugs are mostly worked out on another’s dime. The few times that I have violated this, have only reinforced the former. With EV’s, I think the charging network is one of the biggest hurdles at this point, along with the somewhat dated, and challenging to recycle Lithium Ion battery technology. It’ll be interesting to see when or if Sodium Ion gets any legs.

    I think it is actually kind of neat to be witnessing this shift in transportation fueling technology, and seeing how it develops over time. I’m going to be sitting on the sidelines for awhile though, and watching how everything develops before jumping into the game. It is certainly enjoyable though to spectate at this point.

    We can engineer our way out of problems with green electricity capture and distribution. We can’t engineer our way out of burning fuel releasing carbon. Encouraging the engineering is how we can live to enjoy our classics.

    They claim EVs will be “every bit as entertaining” but it’s not possible. EVs are little more than a one trick pony: acceleration. One could also argue that they can provide good handling if they have a low center of gravity, but the experience will always be lacking the engagement, connection and skill requirement of a manual transmission and the theater of a beautiful ICE exhaust note.

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