In a change from the usual automotive waffle found on PetrolBlog, we've gone and got ourselves a real writer. With thanks and gratitude to James Clark - petrolhead, wordsmith, Dad and prospective owner of a 325i Touring. Here's his take on the current move towards Electric Vehicles. Brilliant stuff. His blog can be found at http://progressblues.blogspot.com/ Pay it a visit, but promise to come back here again someday!
[caption id="attachment_580" align="aligncenter" width="504" caption="We're gonna rock down to...Electric Avenue"][/caption]
I noticed on Twitter this week that electric race bike manufacturer Mavizen has sold another machine, and good luck to them, they seem nice. The more I looked at the bike though, and it's pictured above, the more a nagging doubt started to take hold. Something was "wrong". Finally, I got it. The thing that was wrong was that I didn't want one.
This is almost unheard of. I want pretty much everything. I treat vehicles like records, or would given a chance; i.e. if I had the money I'd ride a Harley for when I'm in that mood, a Fireblade when in another, drive a Bentley when that mojo was upon me and an old Chevvy pick-up another time, and so on. Basically I could have ten garages full of vehicles and still want more - there's always another mood.
So why didn't I want one of these undoubtedly lovely looking and very capable machines? The honest truth, I discovered after a little soul-searching, is it doesn't make a noise. That's it. Pathetic isn't it?
Or is it? It set me thinking.
My son is just three. He loves his toy trucks, cars and bikes, and is delirious every time he spots a tractor or a digger. When he plays driving games whatever he's pushing about is accompanied by the requisite engine noise. Planes whoosh, diggers roar, cars go vroom. His excitement about vehicles revolves around speed and noise. I'm 39, and now I realise that mine does too.
I used to drive my TR6 with the roof down in the rain, I love the fact that my bike pops and bangs so much on the over-run despite eating fuel as a result, I used to have the sound of a Maserati V8 as my mobile phone ring. These noises appeal to the most base elements of my psychology. The smell of petrol and oil or the note of an exhaust all suggest danger, speed, risk and fun. They are the soundtrack of abnormality, of wandering too near the edge, of leaving your comfort zone. They touch something in me which evolution hasn't yet extinguished in most of us, the need to release hormones and chemicals to prepare us for "fight or flight"; as opposed to go to meetings and filter emails.
And this brings me to the point of today's blog, the Green movement's determination that we'll drive electric cars. Through no fault of their own, most Greens (although by no means all) just don't understand driving or riding. They think that a car which will get one from A to B without producing CO2 at the same speed as one that does must be a winner and they're outraged most of us don't agree. They approach transport from the head and the heart, but not from the pit of the stomach.
And that's the point - lots of us petrolheads are, shock/horror, not backwoodsmen. We recognise the issues around global warming and, even if we don't always agree, we know the oil's running out. We're not against change.
But we do understand that to change people's driving behaviour one needs to deliver them what they want in a different format - not deliver them what you want.
If I told my son about electric cars and the fact that they're silent, and then bought him a model Prius, he wouldn't play with it. He has no concept of climate change, but he has a perfectly developed concept of fun and excitement.
The internal combustion engine is a cultural icon not just because of the socio-economic changes it produced, but because it's a loud, dangerous, stinky machine which appeals to our most base instincts.
We don't need to swap it for batteries, we need to burn something else in it. Hydrogen is the future - hydrogen and taking the baffles out of your exhausts.
Thanks again to James Clark. Follow his daily twittering at http://twitter.com/MotoClark