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.
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.
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