That’s right. I have my doubts about electric cars. I’m a gashead and a skeptic, and I spend my days covering an industry whose product hadn’t changed much since it was invented. Four wheels and an engine, and you’re more or less good to go. EVs are rewriting that.
This story originally appeared in Volume 20 of Road & Track.
Electric vehicles present complications. Though they have noble goals—to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide piling up in our habitat—EVs create new problems while doing little to solve the existential issues we face. The science is in on climate change; it’s less convincing that electric passenger cars are the solution to the problem. Charging infrastructure remains a huge issue in wide swaths of the United States, a country that is notably terrible at infrastructure. Range anxiety, materials scarcity, high prices, limited consumer desire—the challenges EVs face are real.
What’s more, this is the only time since World War II—when the U.S. auto industry stopped making passenger cars and instead built Sherman tanks and B-24 Liberators—that the people in charge don’t actually know what they’ll be making in five years. EVs? Gas engines? Crawly people movers? A couple of months back, I had an off-the-record chat with the very smart CEO of a major carmaker and asked him what will propel cars five years from now. “Solid-state batteries,” he said. “Cars will be more focused on silicon and software stacks.” Shorthand, it seemed to me, for “I have no earthly idea.”
In this issue, we dig into the big questions. Jason Fenske explains exactly what the hell that CEO means by a solid-state battery. Jamie Kitman investigates the mysterious machinations inside Toyota, where a spirited battle rages between proponents of EVs and defenders of hybrids. Will the work of Takeshi Uchiyamada—the humble, revolutionary Prius—be tossed aside?
Brett Berk weighs in on the very real dangers of extremely heavy battery-powered SUVs, editor-at-large Matt Farah takes a spin in the hybrid Corvette E-Ray, and we examine the tricky world of EV restomods, in which engineers tear out beloved enthusiast drivetrains and replace them with plug-and-play electric motors.
We also present to you, dear reader, our very first Performance EV of the Year awards. Are EVs dialed in enough to be real sports cars? What defines performance in an EV, where the amount of fun you can have is so directly correlated with your distance from a DC fast-charging station? And which cars do it best right now?
I’m stodgy and getting old. Change rankles me. I have my doubts about EVs. But this latest issue of Road & Track, Vol. 20: Electrified, has at least answered the most burning questions.
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