Who Cares If Electric Cars Go Fast? A Lot Of People, Actually


faster-is-betterAs a writer, I generally go out of my way to respect the opinions and musings of other people. While nobody, including myself, is unbiased, I try to approach every argument from both sides. But sometimes, a man must take a stand on his principles, and a recent piece from Plug-In Cars entitled “Who Cares If Electric Racecars Are Not As Fast As Gas Cars?” is too backwards for me to keep my mouth shut.

Penned by Laurent J. Masson, the piece bemoans the fact that Sebastian Loeb dominated this year’s Pikes Peak racing event, an event that electric vehicles were expected to dominate. Yet even though Monster Tajima set a new record for EVs that matched last year’s gas-powered Pikes Peak record, Masson whines that EVs came in some 92 seconds behind Loeb’s record-setting run.

The point Masson then goes on to try and make is that EV buyers don’t care about performance, and neither do Europeans, but rather about range. Yes, range anxiety is real, and I don’t doubt that most current EV owners are more concerned with range than performance, but Masson misses the point.

Current EV owners, or those looking to buy one soon, are already willing to pay a premium price and take on certain inconveniences, like long charge times, limited range, and slow acceleration to drive a gas-less vehicle. What they want doesn’t matter because they already bought an EV. But a vast majority of Americans still want a capable, and preferably engaging electric car that still feels like a regular car, both in convenience and performance. We don’t all need 400 horsepower Mustangs to get us to and from work, but when it comes to merging on a highway or passing a geriatric driver doing 10 mph under the speed limit, would you rather be in a Mustang or a Prius?

Furthermore, the technology developed for racing has a way of trickling down into production vehicles. Sure, maybe electric cars didn’t perform as well at Pikes Peak as hoped, but there was still a lot of talk about them, raising awareness that the capabilities and performance of electric cars are improving by leaps and bounds. Hell, even the notoriously anti-EV Wall Street Journal did a piece on EVs at Pikes Peak, and while tt may take a few more years, I have no doubt that EVs will eventually dominate Pikes Peak, among other racing events.

People love winners, especially Americans, and while range and charging time are important aspects of EV ownership, they are not exciting or sexy. The whole point of Gas2.org (at least under my watch) is to drive home the point that green cars can be fast, fun, and more than just boring commuter appliances.

Sex sells, and what EV is sexier than the Tesla Model S?
Sex sells, and what EV is sexier than the Tesla Model S?

While the slow-and-steady formula may work for cars like the Toyota Corolla, even the perennial best-seller is capable of outpacing any EV on the market that isn’t a Tesla. Notice how people have been lined up for years to buy a luxury performance EV, even one that costs $70,000. These are the kinds of buyers EV advocates want to convert, because these are the people who become trendsetters, buying all the things we wished we owned. And who here doesn’t wish they owned a Tesla Model S? Watching Elon Musk’s electric luxury car silently pass Mustangs and Porsches at the track is far more thrilling, to me at least, than eeking a few extra miles out of my Leaf’s battery pack.

But the final point that Masson makes is one that can only come from an arrogant, holier-than-thou mindset. I’ll let the words speak for Mr. Masson;

“ Rude people drive noisy, smelly, smoking gas cars while subtle thoughtful people glide along in silent electric cars.”

That’s bad enough, right? But wait, it gets worse!

“Not everybody is suddenly going to become sophisticated, but it would be sad if the electric car had to lose its soul, and take on the characteristic of fast petrol-powered vehicles, in order to achieve greater success.”

I don’t swear often on these pages, as I feel it tends to detract, rather than add to my work, but I found myself dropping a litany of (admittedly creative) profanities directed at Mr. Masson upon reading that sentence.

I’m sorry Mr. Masson’s sophisticated European sensibilities are offended by conventional automobiles, especially those designed to go fast. I’m also sorry that he doesn’t think things like acceleration or torque should matter to  people, because the thrill of punching the accelerator in a torquey car is one of life’s little joys to me. It’s clear though that Mr. Masson is no authority on automobiles, and that his close-minded nature prevents him from seeing how performance cars and racing helps improve production cars, especially where EVs are concerned.

I am here to tell you that I care about fast electric cars, and I’m not alone. The march of progress demands more power, more speed, and more excitement, and I’ve made it the mission of Gas2 to promote the progress and awareness of green cars by highlighting all they can be. Cars like the 800 horsepower Porsche 918 Spyder, the hydrogen-powered Aston Martin Rapide S, or the all-electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive. These cars are the culminations of hundreds of thousands of man hours, of passion, soul, and art in automotive form. The Nissan Leaf is a great car, but if you ask me which of these cars has the most “soul”, the Leaf would be at the bottom of the list.

Which of these would you rather have?

Electric cars in motorsports gives me an underdog to cheer for besides the gas guzzlers that have dominated racing for the past century. Just because your team loses one game doesn’t mean you abandon the entire season. Electric car performance is improving by leaps and bounds everyday, and soon enough EVs will offer comparable, and perhaps even superior performance to conventional cars.

But not if we sit back and say “Well that’s fast enough for a SOPHISTICATED person.”

 Source: Plug-In Cars

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • Jed Wheeler

    Want to go fast in an EV? Buy an electric motorcycle. The fastest motorcycle at pikes peak this year was the lightning electric bike. And if you’re looking for the thrill of pulling the throttle back and feeling that torque as you leap forward, well, I’ve never driven a car that can compare to even the tamest motorcycle; let alone a beast like the lightning electric. The Brammo and Zero bikes turned

    Of course electric cars need to go fast too! I think the problem is that many people assume that ev’s (1) will only sell to environmentally conscious consumers and (2) those consumers don’t care about performance. Both those assumptions are false. Electric engines are naturally torqueier and faster to accelerate. I’d like to see more car companies capitalize on that fact. In the 1900’s electric cars were briefly very popular but lost out to gas cars when ford standardized on internal combustion because of performance issues. It would be a crying shame to see that history repeat itself.

  • SteveO

    As everyone who cares should no by now… the EVs at Pikes Peak had to run on slippery wet pavement after a storm came through following the gas powered car runs. Not to take anything away from Loeb’s incredible record breaking performance, but weather significantly disadvantaged the EV times. Not complaining, just saying. There will be a next year. http://insideevs.com/rain-took-away-a-podium-finish-for-evs-in-2013-pikes-peak-international-hill-climb-wvideos/

  • AaronD12

    With new CAFE standards in the US, gas-powered cars will start to become slower, too. In the 1970s and 1980s, cars with 0-60 times in the double-digits were the norm. Even the 1980s Porsche 944 did 0-60 in 8.3 seconds. A Kia Forte does 7.6 seconds today.

    We’ve gotten spoiled with very powerful vehicles with relatively fast 0-60 times. My Mitsubishi i-MiEV, with its 13 second 0-60 time is comparatively slow in the US, but in Europe, it’s about normal. I expect car manufacturers to start sacrificing 0-60 times to the CAFE gods.

    Is a Chevy Spark EV going to be fun with its 7.6 second 0-60 runs? Yep. Do I need that level of acceleration on my drive to and from work? Nope. It will truly be interesting if EVs become the performance vehicles and ICE vehicles become the “long haul” vehicles.

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  • UncleB

    Moving parts counts, durability, longevity, value over time, design centres, quality builds, running costs, fuel costs, serviceability, reliability, soon to become an American’s greater concern in personal transportation over drag-strip capabilities as he looks to ever decreasing wage opportunities, longer working hours, more part-time and temporary employment situations, ever-escalating gasoline prices, cost of living soaring exponentially, rising taxes due to military commitments, American debt ever-increasing, ever lower PPP(Purchasing Price Package) for wages earned as the Feds buy our way out of depression with money printing processes, easements and the like, greedy plutocrats looting the country, capital moving to Asia, increasing poverty, increasing poverty stricken population numbers, whole cities defaulting bankrupting nation wide, ever lowering public education standards, infrastructure repairs gone undone, food quality declining. Three moving part Electric power-trains form China in utility trucks, small utilitarian cars soon a welcome commodity?