Never Stop Driving #64: EV struggles


The EV deals are just around the corner. Tesla has already repeatedly dropped the price of its cars, while new EV models continue to join the market. General Motors, for example, is debuting several new EVs before the end of the year, with the Chevrolet Silverado EV slated to start production soon.

Meanwhile, some dealers are struggling to sell the EVs already for sale. One dealer I spoke with, who sells Mercedes and other high-end brands in a cold-climate state, told me that he had five EVs bolted to the showroom floor. He said that all the early adopters have already bought their EVs and his customers are concerned about reduced range as we head into the winter months. There’s an EV glut coming, with a silver lining being likely deep discounts.

Car companies are well aware that the transition to electric vehicles is going to be messy. They’re responding, however, to several future government regulations on tailpipe emissions that essentially mandate EVs. Even Dodge’s architect of the Charger and Challenger muscle-car awesomeness, CEO Tim Kuniskis, pragmatically acknowledged the transition at the recent burnout-fest known as Roadkill Nights. In an interview published by Automotive News, Kuniskis talked about the new electric-powered technology. “I get it: Not everybody is adopting to this technology right away, and not everybody will,” he said. “It will take many years for everybody to, but people will. Early adopters will, and when they see what we can do with this technology, they will start coming along.” Kuniskis also said, “This is the regulation. This is where the industry is going. This is what we have to do.” Dodge has already revealed an electric version of the Challenger that blends muscle-car looks with a synthetically generated exhaust sound.

Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept front three-quarter

Regulations cost money and several car companies have acknowledged that profits from gas-powered vehicles are temporarily needed to fund development of EVs. Tesla seems to be making money with EVs, but that company enjoyed a long head start. The average price of a new car is now nearly 50 grand. Auto loans are feeling more like house mortgages and now average six years. Not surprisingly, people are keeping their cars for longer and the average age of the cars on our roads continues to climb: It’s now at 12.5 years. There are only a few new cars for sale that cost around 20 grand yet dozens for more than 100. Interestingly, GM reversed the decision to kill its most successful EV, the Bolt, which will utilize a new, more efficient Ultium battery pack that should cost 40 percent less than the current Bolt’s battery technology. One can assume that this second-gen Bolt will cost less, too.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV rear three-quarter

I imagine many of you are thinking, “There goes ol’ libertarian Larry slamming the gubment.” Actually, I understand the need for regulation and the benefits it achieves. When I lived in a town that was beset with smelly and heavy smoke from nearby steel mills, I experienced how air pollution negatively affected the quality of life. A few years ago we published a piece on the EPA’s 50th anniversary. That agency faced plenty of pushback some 50 years ago when it enacted the car-emissions rules that ultimately helped reduce Los Angeles’s pea-soup smog. The computer-controlled engines initially made to meet those EPA regs are one major reason we now have gazillion-horsepower Dodges and Chevies that start on cold mornings and idle easily in traffic. I’m also grateful for the increased crash safety of modern cars and once made a film about how the Corvair was the sacrificial lamb that sparked the auto-safety push.

I am conflicted about our current state. Change is often painful and unwanted. Are we experiencing the discomfort of change or reaching too far for something the buyers don’t want? I often think about the dozens of off-the-record conversations with car executives I’ve had over the years who all point out that when gas is expensive, people use less and demand alternatives. While my mom regularly complains about the price of fuel, that figure has actually been remarkably stable over time when one adjusts for inflation. This despite the fact that we consume some 30 percent more oil than we did 50 years ago.

These are complicated issues that I fear I’ve oversimplified and in turn perhaps projected a pessimistic view of the future. I feel positive, in fact, partly because of what we do at Hagerty Media, which is to embrace all cars but largely focus on the past. That research reveals time after time the ingenuity of humans to find unexpected and inventive solutions to problems. I hope you agree that we highlight those stories and if you’d like to support us, please join the Hagerty Drivers Club.

The thought of optimism reminded me of a recent visit with Hagerty columnist and car fan Jay Leno. My colleague Aaron Robinson and I watched Leno perform at The Comedy & Magic Club, where Leno proved he’s as funny as ever. The next day, we went to Leno’s garage for a wide-ranging conversation that included autonomous and electric cars. Leno, who regularly drives his Tesla, is infectiously optimistic. He simultaneously loves the past but also embraces change. We could all learn plenty from Leno.

Have a great weekend!

P.S.: Your feedback is very welcome. Comment below!

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    Great piece Larry. We old BOOMERS need to embrace the science, especially the empirical data, and we need to amplify our love of our grandchildren’s health and well being, and acknowledge that applied science, i.e. technological advances, will produce a healthier future for our families.

    Larry, I don’t want a damned EV shoved down my throat. I don’t want one, and I Particularly don’t want one when it supports a political agenda. Who Doesn’t believe that the sky-high gas prices are largely by design, to try to coerce folks into EVs?

    Unless I’ve just missed it, not even Hagerty is writing about EV consequences. How long will these vehicles last? Will older EVs have any residual or trade in value? What will we do with all the depleted batteries? For that matter, what about the environmental impact of mining raw materials needed for battery production? What about already taxed electrical grids? And why should owners of internal combustion vehicles pay all the freight of road taxes, fuel taxes, etc while EV owners not only get off Scot Free, but get government subsidies?

    It’s not the electric motor or the range that’s the elephant in the room but the recharging infrastructure that’s keeping many from a local only means of transportation.

    Yes, and at this point in time hybrids (and specifically plug ins) make far more sense because of this. As a boomer and engineer who retired from the auto business, I can embrace both the technology and the fact that the best use of that technology right now is NOT fully electric vehicles. Owning and driving a RAV4 Prime for 2 years now has been a delight in most every respect. I can plug it in at home every night at 7 PM and reliably have 40 to 50 miles of electric range by 6 a.m. I often go 2 to 3 months without stopping at a gas station, and when I do it is often for less than $25! I have taken multiple trips of nearly 2000 miles and averaged almost 40 mpg while enjoying the best acceleration since owning a 944 turbo. If they can build 5 or 6 of these with the same battery material resources of one BEV this is certainly the best solution until charging stations are as plentiful as gas stations. If we are concerned about the long term health of our grandchildren we should also be concerned about ongoing issues with the health of those mining resources and the ultimate disposal of them.

    Choosing an EV as a principal vehicle in a family requires selective circumstances; e.g., above average supply of funds, agreeable usage parameters.
    There’s a considerable number of individuals and/or families, that have no where near the funds available, and/or do not have access to readily available charging (renters). California is a great example where 30% of the population gets assistance from the state.
    I agree EVs are here to stay, but until “beater” EVs become available, they will be relegated (for the most part) to the upper middle class and up.

    ^David is on it.

    Rebates on $100 000 luxury cars made (make) no sense.

    Rebating a reasonable quality of vehicle to be low-hanging gasoline price would make far more sense –if rebating individuals even makes sense. Rebating the jurisdiction the electric vehicle is registered in to help with infrastructure makes more sense to me.

    Recognizing Toyoda’s wisdom in saying “just drive our Toyota hybrid to commute it will be in e-mode for most people most of the time… can make way more hybrids for the materials in vs. pure EV…” is the actual path to a real environmental impact.

    But this isn’t all about environmental impact. Virtue signaling and showing off has been a big part. Tesla is ahead… their Chinese production meets all US standards for environment and employee treatment right?

    EVs are fine for those who want them. The problem is EVs don’t meet every need, and likely never will, at least not nearly as well as ICE vehicles do. The government force-feeding EVs on a short timeline is a huge mistake. They are pushing a so-called green agenda that isn’t really “green” when total carbon footprint is taken into account. EVs are going to cost us billions upon billions of dollars that most of us don’t want to spend, and we are losing freedom of choice that we should have. ICE vehicles meeting current pollution regulations are not “dirty.” The exhaust they emit is cleaner than that LA air in the 70s that you mention. The newest ICE emission standards were concocted not to make meaningful pollution reductions but to end ICE production. The government is picking winners and losers, and its record in doing that is terrible. The chances that it has chosen wisely here are not good.

    Larry. Great article as always. I too am a boomer that does not yet fully embrace the change to EV’s. I feel it’s being rammed down our throat. It is the future but it should be phased in over a longer period of time. My biggest concern which doesn’t get talked about is the power grid. We don’t yet have the infrastructure to handle charging all the EV’s coming down the pipeline. I hope I’m wrong but I see problems coming.
    Take care!!

    I’ll be happy to drive an EV – once it offers similar range, refuel time and hauling capacity as the ICE powered vehicles (including our minivan that regularly pulls a trailer) we currently own. The industry is nowhere near that point yet – but will be someday. Meanwhile, I disagree with the automakers who say we are bound by what the politicians impose on us. They work for us and if they force us towards something that we don’t want we need to kick them out of office.
    Further, those who base all their decisions on the assumption that climate change is manmade – are apparently unaware that the earth is still cooler than when dinosaurs roamed (Mesozoic Era) – and is still warming up from its last ice age. Those are facts – Google it if you don’t believe it. Bottom line, CLIMATE IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING and while we should always strive for reduced pollution, the idea that mankind can stop climate change is truly arrogant. So, let’s all stop making our kids scared to death that the world will soon end.

    The pushback on EVs is strange to me. They perform better than the vast majority of gas cars, and are thus more fun to drive. They easily meet the driving needs of everyone for 95% of travel. For reasonable commutes, overnight charging is perfectly fine. Long road trips might be a problem, sure, but that’s a small proportion of driving (and the “problem” is overrated when traveling anywhere there’s a population base). Rental cars will still exist and could remain gas-powered, and gas-powered work vehicles that need to idle or run equipment need not be banned. And if you really crave that exhaust sound, get a classic and get your fix on the weekend.

    My pushback comes from a place of government regulation and my own cheapness. I don’t like too much government regulation. And this is coming from a civil engineer in the governemnt transportation industry.

    And my own cheapness – I drive cheap beaters. My three “classics” that are insured with Hagerty are not valuable. My daily driver is a 25 year old F150, and my “nice” truck is a 23 year old high mileage F350. I would consider commuting in a beater EV if I could be in one including repairs for no more than $3000, and if I had reasonable confidence the batteries would last for a couple of years. My current daily, after repairing, has about $2800 tied up in it. My last beater, an 03 Pathfinder, was bought for $500 and I spent about $800 doing repair work. I cycle through daily drivers every year or two like this, buying and selling and rolling the profits into the next purchase. And my wife’s car is a 13 year old Highlander that we bought when it was 10 years old for $10k. Currently, EVs just don’t fit in with this.

    I certainly don’t mind people owning EVs. I just don’t want them to be forced upon the whole population, or fossil fuels to become so over-regulated that they are no longer widely available.

    “ Rental cars will still exist and could remain gas-powered, and gas-powered work vehicles”

    Who would make these low number of ICE rental vehicles? And if you found a manufacturer, how much of a premium would they command for custom limited run automobiles? Further, if you reduce ICE vehicles to a fraction of what they are now, who is going to produce fuel (gasoline and diesel) on such a small scale? If you do find a small refinery, what do you think the cost per gallon of that limited production run will be? And the rental companies are done with these vehicles, are they scrapped?

    There is nothing (repeat: nothing) the government does that it doesn’t dork up royally.
    With several centuries of oil still in the ground, what’s the rush? Phony “climate change”?
    Don’t China and India have the cleanest environments on the planet?
    Stow the politically correct virtue signalling and peddle the b.s. somewhere else.
    Grow a pair Larry!


    The other big issue you did not touch on is that we do not have and are not developing the electric grid to support EVs. It appears to be by design. Remember, our electric energy comes primarily from fossil fuels and will continue to for many years. So, effectively the “clean energy” aspect of EVs is nothing but a scam.
    Candidly, I think the whole push for EVs is a big part of the desire by certain elites to control the masses, specifically through limiting the amount of energy per capita consumed. Good news, America and the world is waking up… fast.

    Ok, I am an old Boomer. Car collector and industry pro.
    One of the misconceptions about EVs is the “grid”, and that the grid will stay the same and be overtaxed by EVs. Not really true, as the grid is adapting, and becoming decentralized, with homes acquiring solar power, and the adoption of clean forms of energy. Over the last year, 50% of my neighborhood has gone solar. More panels are on the way, even for my own home, with a big battery backup.

    My brother in law bought a Tesla Model 3. “I have 36 solar panels on my home, so why not?” was part of his reasoning. He drives it down from his home to LA, about 190 miles. non stop. As for the government “forcing” EVs down our throats, well… EVs will be less expensive to build as they have fewer parts. Battery technology is actually improving faster than anticipated and, surprisingly , these clean sheet cars work pretty well. They handle, brake and ride well. The range for some is a little short, but that will take care of itself (probably by really fast charging, which, come to think of it, would work for me). Oh, I forgot, some, even ordinary ones, are blindingly quick. None are really “glorified golf carts”, but in fact, quicker than any of the Muscle Cars of the 60s that Haggarty insured often treasure.
    I am a collector myself, with a +8 Morgan, and a Westfield “Lotish” 11. Old school sport cars that I love to drive. I need a new car now, and I am torn between purchasing something that is the at the apogee of IC engine development, or some relatively early version of a new EV. tech. The only thing keeping me from purchasing an EV is the cost for the range that I want (350 miles, give or take), with the performance that I want ( 0-60 in 4.0 or less) in a chassis that appeals to my nerve endings. The cars are out there, but the cost can be excessive and I don’t want to trade anything from my collection. I guess I am waiting for Teycan type performance and super fast charging. When? Next year? Probably. I really want to see that new Charger…
    Tesla is already cutting prices, and other companies will follow suit as they improve their battery situation, and perfect their manufacturing. It’s an exciting time, not unlike when those first low emissions machines with their balky electronic carburetors were replaced by digital fuel injection and 3 way cats. Now we have 2 liter, 400 hp 4 cylinder engine, 700+ hp V8s, and Corvettes that get close to 30 mpg on the road.
    We now have some very nice Korean electrics with incredible performance and high quality fit and finish. Quick charging is coming along, along with billions behind spent on charging stations throughout the country.
    If you think that we are going to go back to IC engines, wake up. The manufacturers have decided. The future is Electric. Like breaker less ignition and digital fuel injection with complex ECUs… Get used to it.

    I think you are being overly-optomistic about battery technology and are also forgetting the sourcing for the neeeded raw materials (e.g. Lithium). Even Toyota has said the rosy predictions and Govt push for full EVs is not viable.

    The world does not need or want electric cars. The proof of this is that they require taxpayers to subsidize their cost. And where does that magic electricity come from? 72% from fossil fuels. And don’t forget that anytime energy is changed from one form to another, there is loss. If you convert 100 BTUs of natgas to electricity you don’t get 100 BTUs of electricity. And don’t hand me any crap about global warming. I’m old enough to know that the climate doomsdayers have been consistently wrong for over 50 years. I’m also old enough to know bullsh*t when I see it and hear it. Failed climate predictions date back to 1902 (yes, the world only had 10 years left then also}. “No one ever went broke betting on the stupidity of the American public” H. L. Mencken

    I’m sure that Leno is “as funny as ever”, but the line “a synthetically generated exhaust sound” had me guffawing out loud. That’s the best line in your piece, Larry!

    Maybe, but their first stab at it was pretty tinny. Besides, why bother? One of the things I read over and over on these pages is the joy of listening to a healthy ICE exhaust sound (go read the article about the Monterey vintage races and count how many references there are). But if I’m in an EV, I KNOW I’m not listening to an exhaust note, and bystanders know it too. So who are we trying to fool? We’re trying to assuage our hurt at not having a V-8 with Flowmasters? That’s just silly. Either you want to drive an EV – and thus realize that the most maybe you’ll get is a little whine – or you want a throaty rumble when you floor a gas pedal. Might as well superglue a 8-71 blower housing on top of the hood so people will think you have the real thing. Driving an electric car and “pretending” it’s an ICE with “a synthetically generated exhaust sound” is a little bit like wearing blow-up muscles under your shirt, IMHO…

    To be fair, there is literal millions of cars on the road with stock, whisper-quiet exhaust systems and no one whines about how the endless string of Corolla’s driving down their street is too quiet.

    You might drive for an experience that includes hearing damage, but the vast majority of people who drive (not drivers) seek comfort in their means of transportation. They are the ones buying the most cars and we can’t even act surprised when the majority rules.

    Have fun with your dronemasters.

    I’m not sure if you were agreeing with me or not, but I think you just added to my point. There is no good reason to add “simulated” engine or exhaust noise to an EV.

    If you want to drive an EV, then go to it. I have problems with the know nothing government mandating what I drive. Let’s face it, most who work for the government are scientifically and factually challenged and are lawyers at best. It has already been proven that EVs are not nearly as “green” as those in government would like you to believe; and much of the mined materials needed for battery production come from countries who hate us. Dead battery waste stream? Has that even been considered yet? Not so green, I guess. Thanks, I will stick with cars that are reliable and have an age old infrastructure to support them.

    I understand the position that automotive design progress is inevitable. While the discussion always includes elements in the development of the EV, there is never any reference to the lack of infrastructure to support the EV. Why is the industry and the government pushing the EV before we are prepared for it?

    Let’s call it as it truly is and understand the social impact. There will not be a semi-reliable affordable electric used car for $4-5K, likely ever. Batteries age, replacements are and will continue to be expensive. The social impact of this will be catastrophic to the working poor. If the government totally phases out ICE cars, this is in essence, a war on their independence. Unaffordable electric vehicles mean the poor will be forced to live exclusively in urban centers and relegated to use public transportation or nothing. The problem is complicated by the fact that in stable, low to moderate crime urban centers, the value of real estate around light rail stations rapidly escalates as trendy workers buy in. This means that the poor cannot afford to live close to the public transportation they are dependent upon. Their only choice becomes bus routes and transfers. To them, government policies phasing out ICE vehicles will strip them of their independence.

    It is time to recognize that current vision of all electric vehicles has incredibly negative social implications for a major segment of the population.

    In upstate NY, I have daily-driven hybrids since 2014 (BMW i3 Rex) and a Porsche Panamera E-hybrid since 2018. Both, though techno wonders, fall short in cold climate efficiency. What really angers me is not corporate engineering or salesmanship; rather it is ignorant demagogic politicians who are listening to their loudest, but weakest advocacy groups rather than engineers and operators of vehicles, batteries and charge systems.

    “NYS is NOT California” is my mantra every time I encounter one of these buffoons. New York’s senseless competition with the Golden State (and CARB) stems from Andrew Cuomo’s early gubernotrial days when he was trying to out-Newsom Gavin in the long run up to the Dem Presidencial nomination. Now he’s gone, but the impetuous-left loonies are firmly embedded in our State regulatory and energy inducement operations (NYSERDA, NYSDPS, NYSDEC). They refuse to listen and continue to impose stupendously expensive offshore wind and north-country solar generation measures on us..neither could be further from efficent.

    On the federal level, I have maintained for years that the Feds ought to tie their purchase tax rebates to your ZIPCODE, not your purchase price. Subsidizing all sales south of the 39th Parallel is typical Federal largesse foolishness. That $7K would go a long way in enticing road charging operations and help those of us who rely on hybrid/electric vehicles as our sole transportation device where temps are routinely below 40 degrees nearly half the year.

    Political whim aside, what is so difficult to understand about that? VOTE them OUT.

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