Never Stop Driving #45: A new push for EVs

Two days ago, Environmental Protection Agency chief Michael Regan proposed new rules that aim to accelerate the transition to battery-powered cars and call for over half of new cars to be battery-powered in less than 10 years.

What’s the difference between a visionary and a loon? In 1961, when JFK announced that the United States would seek to land a human on the moon before 1970, I bet plenty of people thought he was nuts. There’s huge value, however, in setting ambitious targets for brilliant minds to reach for. Sometimes we fall short, but often, humans find a way. Case in point: We now have a street-legal 1025-horsepower Dodge you can buy from a dealer. I never dared dream of such a thing but perhaps I’m not the visionary type.

There’s a growing realization, however, that the transition to electric cars is going to be much harder than previously thought. This is a complicated topic with so much charged rhetoric that I find it hard to suss out the truth. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers recently published a sober and comprehensive article on the challenges ahead. When I was a mechanical engineering student at Lehigh University, the EEs were the wicked smart kids, so when their global governing organization speaks, I listen.

A young apprentice at Globe & Simpson
Battery technology has come a long way already, thanks to the efforts of electrical engineers. Paul Walters/Heritage Images/Getty Images

I’ve come to love what the latest generation of energy-dense batteries can do. I enjoy my electric dirt bike so much, I’m selling my 1969 Honda CB160, which is gathering dust in my garage. My favorite tool is a cordless Milwaukee impact wrench that’s loosened every nut I’ve asked it to. Yet, I love my gasoline engines, too, especially for the stories behind them.

In the latest Barn Find Hunter video, Tom Cotter takes us on a walking tour of coastal Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Naturally, Hagerty’s chief old-car sleuth, who has an uncanny knack for sniffing out hidden treasure, uncovered a Lotus Eleven that competed in the Mille Miglia, the 1000-mile Italian open-road race (there’s also one for sale on the Hagerty Marketplace). Cotter highlighted the car’s power unit, a four-cylinder engine built by a company called Coventry Climax.

That engine was originally built not for cars, but for fire fighters. The rescue workers needed a lightweight power unit that they could carry to fires and power water pumps. Ingenious racers like Lotus founder Colin Chapman repurposed the motor for car racing. Brilliant. (My colleague Don Sherman explained the fascinating history here.) When I reflect on stories of technological progress and ingenious people, I hesitate to draw conclusions about the viability of long-range goals like the new EPA proposals. Humans are amazing. After all, someone made the Ford GT40.

If you’ve ever wondered how to assign a value to the machine that beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this article explains. If that’s too much coin for you, the Porsche 959 is roughly a quarter of the price and our own Henry Catchpole put the most famous 911 of the Eighties through its paces. This seems to be a supercar week as Larry Chen’s latest dispatch brings us a modified Ferrari Enzo. Turn the sound way up for that one! If a Fifties Ford is more your speed this weekend, check out a Hagerty Drivers Club member tribute to his father’s race car.

If you’re a fan of car design, check out this piece on cars drawn by the same Italian design house favored by Ferrari.

Hear from Larry every Friday by subscribing to this newsletter.


Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it.

Read next Up next: Virtual roundtable: Industry pros on the state of the collector market


    The government and the regulators within it live in an alternate world. Rules for thee but not for me. Whatever pain we may feel they will not. If someone wants to buy an EV, go for it but I’m not joining that party. (I bought an IS 500 last month, go V8’s!) My concern is for the future where the choices are slim or poor at best. They are not looking out for the people, just pushing agenda over anything else.

    If their agenda is less reliance on oil, I’m all for it. I live in a place where climate change is painfully obvious. Electrics are a piece of the solution, and I wish more car people understood this. Nobody’s coming to take our V8s away.

    Electric cars are fine but I think they have a long way to go before I would consider buying one,also I don’t think people should be forced to buy one,and what about all the classic cars out there?people still want to drive them.

    I’ll confess up front that I’m about as cynical as can be where anything government (especially federal) is concerned. I live by Ronald Reagan’s motto “The nine most dangerous words in the English language are We’re from the government and we’re here to help”. I think comparing JFK’s moonshot challenge and the government’s attempt to force us into EVs is apples and oranges. We sat back and watched the first, but will have to endure substantial (and most likely expensive and bothersome) lifestyle changes to achieve the second. Many of us have always known the the coming electrification revolution will take much longer, and cost waaaaaay more than the government (and the environuts) would have us believe. I think the goal of 50% electric in 10 years is fantasy, but we’ll see in 10 years. As usual, these predictions are no doubt made by those who tend to disregard those who don’t live on the left and right coasts. The so called flyover states. Maybe we’ll get lucky and a change in Washington in 2 years will throw a wrench into the whole plan.

    Modern ICE cars pollute a lot less than their small engine counterparts, meaning weed whackers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, etc. where the government should have started first. I love boats but how many times do you go to a Marina and look at the water and see that lovely blueish color of petroleum in the water. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my 1975 Yamaha RD350 “ding, ding, dinger” but those type engines probably emitted in an hour what a modern Accord emits in a week of commuting.
    Maybe, just maybe our government “leaders” should have started with smaller steps, In JFK’s case we had to orbit a man around earth before we could go to the moon. Ambition is great, but success is greater.

    I visited my Ford dealer yesterday to complete a rear camera recall on my GT 350, I love that car! Gt500 in showroom along with various Gt mustangs, Mach 1, all great cars. Then there it was an f150 lightning, a mach E or whatever it is! I asked the salesman how long before you go out of business when all the electrics come? He told me it’s not going to happen! The f150 lightning has been on the lot for 30 days! The mach E’s sell but slowly! My point is no one wants electric cars, you can’t tow with the lightning, range issues and 80 percent of electric comes from fossil fuels! So I will keep my Gt350, 2015 f150 and my 1973 f100 till the day I die! I just hope I live long enough to see the Big three go out of business!!!;

    The 2023 Ford Lightning pickup is rated to tow 10,000 pounds in the XLT or Lariat trim with the extended range battery. The tow package adds additional cooling for battery and motors similar to a ICE vehicle. Will the Lightning get far towing that weight? Not necessarily, but saying it cannot tow is incorrect.

    I guess if you want to argue that reality is relative, you might have a point.

    Personally, I tow short distances regularly and could imagine it is possible other people do too. My vintage cars go into storage seasonally to free up space in my garage and the timing often doesn’t align with me being able to drive them to storage (salt on the roads or inability to get a ride home after dropping the car off) so I need to hitch up a trailer and tow the cars the 28 miles to storage and bring the empty trailer back home. A properly equipped Lightning would be able to handle that. Am I an outlier? I really don’t know. Haven’t conducted a study or survey and extrapolating that my situation is the only one that is correct is just using anecdote as fact which would be a fallacy.

    This isn’t about how I would hypothetically use a truck I don’t own though. It’s about the previous commenter stating the Lightning cannot tow, which it can. Is the use case for its towing abilities narrow? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it cannot tow.

    There is lies the problem. Push!

    This is something that needs to happen organically. Let the products improve and grow to where people want them.

    What is good will make it self known! This is a quote from a Cadillac ad from the early 1900’s. It still rings true today.

    This is an emotional topic. I am not anti EV but I am anti force any product like this on a free market.

    There is a need for much growth yet in this segment. It has come a long way fast but we are still not there to where it would be a natural transition.

    Until a buyer see them as a alternative to where they do not have to change their living habits they will accept these models.

    If you force it this drive the rejection more not just because of the product but more because it is forced on the consumer.

    The world is not going to end if we are not all electric by 2050. These nuts on the left hugging trees need to stop lying as they haver lost much credibility even if they did tell the truth. Al Gore has endded earth how many times?

    Not long ago the CEO of Toyota announced that Toyota would not be joining the “Total Electric” parade. He pointed out that BEV vehicles would not be practical in many of the places Toyota sells vehicles. Toyota is sticking with hybrids. So, ask yourself this: Do you really want to bet against Toyota?

    Several years ago on the old Hagerty forums I posted similar about Hydrogen) “Toyota is rather smart in their overall history. Shouldn’t we listen to their reasoning?”

    The vast majority of commuting could be done in electric mode in a Toyota hybrid. Gas backup for those other times. Stretches the resources needed for the EV parts way farther = more market penetration = more impact overall.

    But that sounds like logic. Not sure we live in logical times.

    The elephant in the room is that most electricity is generated using fossil fuel. This fact makes EVs create more carbon per mile then the ICE equivalent vehicle!

    Larry, until mainly three things are made clear and comfortable for the buying public, EV’s will not flood the market as the industry hopes they will. Sure, they can load show room offerings such that EV’s are largely all that is available, but folks will just hang onto there ICE vehicles longer until their condition doesn’t make sense to maintain any longer, or there aren’t many used ICE vehicles to select from. First, the charging network: I’ve read so many stories on this poorly executed network, (exception is Tesla’s network), that no wonder folks are hesitant. Second, battery technology: I know new chemistries are coming to market, but there is no clear winner that combines, improved degradation life, recharging time, and longer distances yet. Third, trade in value. How is the useful remaining life of an EV valued when the battery pack is one of the largest cost items, and they degrade over time and use?

    When consumers feel that these have been sorted satisfactorily, then purchasing will be more robust.

    We’re learning all this in real time. I believe demand for the F150 Lightning and the Mach E remains strong. Super interesting transition to be around for, in any case.

    I welcome the push to EVs. Yes, there will be challenges along the way, but in my view they are way smaller in cost and severity than the Middle Eastern wars that continue to be fought over oil.
    I too love my classics, but the rapid changeover to electric is the best way out of our current climate woes.

    Electric cars are fine but I think they have a long way to go before I would consider buying one,also I don’t think people should be forced to buy one,and what about all the classic cars out there?people still want to drive them.

    That IEEE link to an article led me to reading the more comprehensive e-book on the subject. It’s 49 pages long, but I enjoyed reading an engineering perspective on the subject. You can get to it at the link in the article, or here is a direct link to the 49 page document:

    Yes it’s long. I’d encourage everyone to read it in its entirety.

    “The transition to EVs is going to be messier, more expensive, and take far longer than the policymakers who are pushing it believe.”

    “EVs pull an invisible trailer filled with required major lifestyle changes that the public is not yet aware of.”

    We have a couple of old GM products stashed around “future projects”. The GM e-crate engine concept actually has appeal –just not the present cost to go this route.

    I’ve been watching used EV pricing for a few years (mostly Volt), mostly because I am surrounded by people that talk the talk of EVangelism, but they don’t walk it (most don’t even have a hybrid) but I am intrigued by the idea of actually buying one as a used vehicle and using it through our nasty winters. Pricing on the Volts isn’t quite attractive (but almost), Nissan Leafs seems need new battery packs after 5-7 years that are worth more than the value of the car. So some red flags.

    So I think I have a somewhat open mind on this.

    I like original cars, restored cars but also appreciate modified. The hot rodder streak in me sees cheap power as the winner and whether it has an exhaust sound doesn’t matter to me (I know it does to others).

    However, I am greatly frustrated by the cloud of information (can’t say facts) on these issues, the lack of long term perspective (i.e., cycle of life matters), and the utter lack of steps taken that actually reduce pollution that could have already happened vs. political “look at me” things (i.e., funding conversions to propane saves 33% emissions per vehicle and could have happened 40 years ago vs. rebating wealthy people buying luxury EVs to show off).

    I never would have imagined I’d prefer an EV dirt bike over a two-stroke ring-a-ding and, to me at least, the lovely aroma of the exhaust, but I do. I thought Akio Toyoda made a whole bunch of sense when he said that we would save more fuel while using less minerals via plug-in hybrids. We unfortunately often buy for the two percent use case, meaning the 400-mile EV is attractive even though the average driver covers around 40-miles a day.

    First off I would like to express that I enjoyed reading and learning quite a bit Thank you Larry.
    As a ICE enthusiast I do not agree that EVs is the way of the future.
    The mining of the raw materials alone that need to make the batteries produce more harm to the environment than two years of global ICE vehicles running.
    The governing bodies that are pushing toward EVs are simply out of their minds and are only intrested in pleasing the millennium minded voters.
    Have any of them truly thought of the strain on the grid this will make? Has anyone thought of how will the grid keep up? Well I’ll tell you either by burning Natural Gas generating plants or by Neuclear plants.
    So much for bringing down the green house effect by burning millions of cubic meters of Natural Gas… and with the Neuclear plants where will all the half life exhausted uranium rods be safely stored along with the plutonium rods…
    I’m not against trying to clean up our planet but I can’t see how EVs are the only option. What do we do with the exhausted Batteries…
    In my opinion although a bit more dangerous and vehicles need better protection around the fuel cell Nitrogen would be the solution. All ICE on the roads only need to adapt the engine to use it. The output of exhausted Nitrogen is pure water no toxins.
    Of course one cannot go to a Gas station and freely fill up, but we would go back to employ service station attendants thus creating jobs… the Nitrogen Gas is man made no mining no toxins to produce it.
    The best part is we could still enjoy the Classic ICE vehicles we have. The auto manufacturers would not need to lay-off or shutdown the assembly lines…
    Yet nobody ever thought of this or given it any thought simply because it doesn’t meet the “Millennial Jetsons cartoons” frame of mind…
    A friend of mine did purchase an EV and had to pay to get the electric service to his home upgraded to handle the charger.
    He is now regretting the purchase of the EV because he cannot maintain a mere 70MPH speed without major drain to the battery.
    Just what sort of an improvement is that for a real enthusiast on the road.

    I’ve about had it, with EV media coverage. I’m realistic enough to know, this is all tilting at windmills. It will never happen, at anywhere near the pace that politicians/zealots hope.

    Okay he’s my take on EV’s. We need to eliminate tailpipe emissions according to the ‘experts’ an EV is the way. I used to live & work in the NYC/Metro area. The smog could be seen on almost any day if you were only a few miles from the NY city limits. I expect that other urban areas are the same or worse? So how do we charge all those cars in all those apartment buildings, let alone the cars in the on street parking or private parking lots? (I want the contract for the installation. That’s a gold mine, if you can get Con Edison to upgrade the feeder cabling and transformer systems.) Seems to me the places that need EV’s the most are the least set up to use the EV.
    One other issue that is quite apparent is the energy needed to keep all the EV’s charged up. I know that sounds like a foolish statement, but what happened in CA last summer? JMHO, this issue sems to have fallen into the “not thought through” bin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *