Lockergnome (Chris Pirillo) YouTubed about his spiffy new Prius V.
I was disappointed. But more on that later.
This is for Ed who wants an American Muscle Car and does not (yet) realize that electric drive is exactly that. The day is soon upon us when the power plant in our most muscular cars (from any country) will be comprised of steel (magnetized) and copper (wound).
This is also for Jay, but Jay's reason for dissing hybrids is that he has a 300 mile trip. (I say hybrid still fills the bill, but I back off because there is still a surcharge.)
This post is about my epiphany.
I'm a wire monkey. I've been kicking electrons down the line since I was five. Literally. (Scared the crap out of my parents.) Yet when it came to locomotion, I considered electric drive to be a revolting idea. After living through the 70s oil crises and hearing of the impending arrival of hybrid cars, I ASSumed they were glorified golf carts.
Then lightning struck.
What do YOU think of when you think of hybrids or electric cars?
Think raw power. Think the unstoppable torque of a diesel locomotive.
But imagine that kind of power combined with nimbleness, the responsiveness of a touch screen, the instant obedience of a light switch. Time to stop thinking wimpy, wimpy, wimpy and think hefty, hefty, hefty. Diesel locomotives are electric. They are what's called "series hybrid".
True, a train engine isn't for the oval (not as sporty as your beamer), but no one can argue that it's serious horsepower. (More accurately, torque.) What if you had that kind of science in a street legal package?
My attitude adjustment came one day in the late 90s. While I was busily saving the world from some software problem, my wife and one of the kids were in the other room catching the latest from the local PBS affiliate. Suddenly, I heard, "Rick! Rick!", and ran into the den expecting to help stem a flow of blood. Thankfully, there was no injury. My love, knowing my geek nature, was simply alerting me to something important.
The program presented a high school shop teacher (Carolinas, I think) who instructed his pupils through the enlightening work of replacing an entire drive train: engine, tranny, all of it. Every season, they'd find a junker, remove the gasoline motivator, and install an electric equivalent. After a while, the teacher had a collection of these and used one on his daily commute. I wish I could remember this guy's name. (I always have some reason to thank a teacher.)
This was really neat to see. We were all impressed! My wife asked why we don't have more things like that on the road. The scene cut to a race track. "That's why. You could never race an electric car." (Or so I thought! as do Ed and many other friends.) To my shock, the very race we were watching was all electric. They were tooling around at over 100MPH on some track where it was a regular event!
At this point, I was in trouble. I sank into an obsession that lasted several weeks. Found out that there were hundreds of "EVers" around the country. Found out that these amp-heads were regularly burning rubber. (These ain't golf carts!) The norm was to convert something with a shot gasoline engine and everything else intact. Found out there was, even then, an electric dragster. The downside: it doesn't rumble.
I wanted one! Things got bad: I would turn off the key in my Tempo ... at highway speed ... just to hear the silence. (Well ... except for the tire whine and wind noise.) I had to put this desire on hold. But some years later, when that Tempo finally bit the dust, the family encouraged me to look at hybrids. We got a 2005 Prius.
Hybrid cars don't necessarily spark my interest. It's pure electric that really gets me torqued. I was skeptical of hybrids at first because of the added complexity. Also, early hybrids were not fully electric, so they could not run the A/C without cranking the ICE shaft. Stuff like that. No thanks. But the "second generation" Prius is capable of pure electric operation. It's a "full hybrid".
To be honest, even as a full hybrid, the focus of the Prius is all environmental. Not what muscle maniacs want. But the unseen beauty is this: all of that pro-environment tech is just a matter of tuning. Slide the knob the other direction and you've got a performance machine.
So ... I admit to not being an environmentalist. But I do like to breath. I also made a decision: I would rather fund one economy (one that produces hybrid and electric cars) than another (one that produces oil).
"It feels good knowing that I'm not running on foreign oil." -- John Whelan
I also weighed the costs. In 2005 the cost of gasoline was so much and the cost of batteries was another so much. I figured it was a safe bet that fuel costs would increase and battery costs would decrease. This has come true.
The surcharge for hybrid tech has come down some. This is the part for Jay. Based on what I've heard from him, I think he needs a small SUV, something like a Toyota Highlander. So the Toy boys make a hybrid Highlander. And this is what I'm ultimately after: Electric drive that looks just like its gasoline counterpart. And though I love pure electric propulsion, that 300 mile trip to grandmother's house is where a petroleum push helps things out.
But for Chris Pirillo, dude, you are missing out! The lockergnome has fallen into the same trap we all have. That energy readout psychs you into driving more conservatively. Don't be afraid to punch it once in a while! You may get better overall mileage from being a little aggressive off the line. Worked for me. (Not sure if Toyota changed the programming between gen 2 and gen 3.)
The thing between Jay and Ed and me started when I whined on G+ about the demise of the Rolls Royce Phantom 102EX. Seems the uber rich have range anxiety. But that makes no sense for a car whose longest usual journey is round trip to the opera. Think about it.
Electric drive is muscle.
If all you're fueled by is gas, you're just fartin around.
-- R; <><