Are cars with internal combustion engines a dying breed? Imagine how disappointed driving enthusiasts will be when they can no longer hear the roar of a Ferrari, operate a manual gearshift, or glance at impressive analogue gauges, now displaced by a screen. Also on the horizon are selfdriving cars, with electronic assist features to replace the driver’s judgment. Is this the end of driving pleasure?
In the last five years, I have had the chance to operate three electric vehicles and a hybrid. One of the first to drive a Tesla, I have also driven a Smart car, an e-Golf, and a Toyota Prius hybrid.
Some people drive to get somewhere, while others go somewhere so they can drive! Then, there are collectors. Although still very active internationally, they belong in a different category, and I am one of them. However, I now think of myself as a hybrid, since I am an electric car convert. There, I’ve admitted it!
If you are unsure, there are, of course, hybrid vehicles, though I believe they are only a temporary solution. Such vehicles have two types of engines, one gas-powered and one electric, meaning twice the potential problems given the additional number of parts required, compared to all-electric cars.
Surprisingly, when I drove from Montréal to Quebec City in the summer, once with a Prius hybrid and once with an eight-cylinder Range Rover, both at a steady cruising speed of 118 km/h, it was the latter that consumed less gas! The reason is simple: for highway driving, the Range Rover’s more powerful engine did not have to work nearly as hard as the hybrid’s four-cylinder engine, so it consumed less. For frequent short trips in the city, there are definite advantages to the electric car, as long as EV charging stations are available. However, if you live out in the country, the cold and long distances at high speeds produce the opposite effect. Porsche has cleverly solved this problem by developing a two-speed transmission.
When the time comes to make a choice, it is important to think about charging station proximity and access. The situation is different if you live in an apartment on rue Saint-Denis, as opposed to a house where you can install your own charger, or a condominium building with no charging station where installing one could cost thousands of dollars.
Among the benefits of electric cars are the fact that they are ecofriendly, reliable, silent, oil independent; they require little maintenance and provide instant acceleration. The electric vehicles scheduled for release in the next two years promise to be very exciting and could finally win over the sceptics. Some of the players to watch are Rivian, Lucid, Renault 5, Porsche, Polestar, Audi Q4, and Volkswagen’s ID.4 SUV and retro-inspired ID.Buzz minibus. Even van makers are getting into the act!
Ultimately, electric vehicles are great for the city, and lucky ones can use the vintage car of their dreams for Sunday drives! As my mother used to tell me when I was young, “Do what you like to do… but get plugged in!”