I like technology. Always have. As a junior photographer, I worked in a camera shop to save enough to buy a color enlarger for my darkroom. Thus it has always been. As radio station operators, we were first in on the newfangled CDs and then streaming digital audio. Early adoption is my thing, and sometimes it is painful. That’s the case today as we move our fire-hazard of a Chevy Bolt to the curb after charging because we’re not all that interested having the car suddenly explode and burn down the house.
It seems that GM sourced the propulsion batteries in our Bolt from LG Chem in South Korea, and that this batch suffers from a “manufacturing defect.” GM has a gift for understatement. This saga began in November with the first of now three recalls for software fixes that didn’t. Now they say they’ll replace the batteries, but can’t say when, so owners must not charge inside overnight, and must keep the cars outside.
The corporate response has been slow. Plodding, even. Whether they’re foot-dragging to avoid remedial compensation or are stuck in their bureaucratic maze is an open question. Maybe they are pushing payments back into the next quarter to make their earnings report look better. And it’s a sad commentary on our times that their customer-service agents don’t reveal their last names (and are probably using fictitious first names as well).
Still, kudos to GM for pioneering electric vehicles. It’s been clear for a number of years that this is where the automobile industry is headed. Rather than jumping on the caboose, early adopters are in the locomotive, hurtling down a dark track to an unknowable destination.
Internal combustion propulsion will soon be a thing of the past. There’s no sense in fighting progress. Remember the tale of Conestoga and Studebaker: Conestoga thought they were in the covered-wagon business, and when the automobile reinvented personal transportation, they went bankrupt. Studebaker, the other big maker of covered wagons, recognized that they were in the transportation business, and made the leap to the horseless carriage.
Today, as we recognize the threat from global climate change, we must acknowledge the fact that the tailpipe emissions of the hydrocarbons that act as greenhouse gases, represent 29% of the entire problem.
For the longest time Big Oil took a page from Big Tobacco‘s playbook and used everything they could to distract us and keep us looking the other way. Those days are ending, and now we see the major petroleum companies racing to create sustainable energy solutions.
I have relegated climate change deniers to the same mind-space as Covid deniers: contrarians who feel a real need to oppose conventional thinking, not to mention science. That need is exceeded only by their need to be right.
Our armchair climate “experts” transitioned easily to being infectious disease “experts.” Today, we’re getting a little respite from that because they’ve switched hats again, and this week they are foreign policy “experts.” Count on them to put a finger to the wind and blow the other way.
EVs adoption will only grow. The cultural iconography will inevitably change. Still, I’m having a hard time relating to 007 driving anything but an Aston Martin.
In addition to, you know, saving the planet, one thing we’ve really enjoyed is not going to the gas station for the last 2 1/2 years. I don’t see another new internal-combustion vehicle in our garage. Plug-in hybrid technology is a good bridge to an all-electric future. Many of us don’t drive more than 50 miles a day and can therefore charge overnight and never go to the gas station again. I’m sure that that interim technology will serve as a great bridge and remove the current “range anxiety,” as it is known, until battery technology and charging infrastructure catch up.
In addition to moving us in a sustainable direction by significantly reducing greenhouse gases, these cars are fun to drive. Like a golf cart on steroids, they accelerate much more quickly than internal-combustion engines that power anything short of a Lamborghini or McLaren F1. Among other advantages, they have also introduced the public to “one pedal driving“ which saves wear and tear, and even makes brake-work almost unheard of because you rarely touch the brake pedal as the friction from the engine slows the vehicle as it recharges the batteries. But the biggest bonus is that there are in total, significantly fewer moving parts to wear out. That means maintenance is also significantly reduced. No water pump, no alternator, no fuel-injection; the only things moving in these vehicles are the jaws dropping as the car hits 60 in 3.5 seconds.
Tell the maintenance people you’ll see them in 100,000 miles.
And tell GM I’m still on hold.
©2021 Jon Sinton for Progressive Agenda LLC