THE BIGGEST BET IN AUTOMOTIVE HISTORY.
DateTUESDAY, JULY 9, 2019 AT 01:15PM
By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. Back in the fall of ’76, when my misguided experiment at getting into the retail side of the auto business in East Lansing went up in smoke, I realized then that my calling wasn’t dealing with upside-down “ups” and the churn and burn of a high volume auto store that operated on the premise of getting people into new cars, whether they could afford them or not (they usually couldn’t).
Not only did I not like it, I detested every minute of it. But the parting words to me by the General Manager before he let me go were classic, as he said that “I just marched to a different drummer.” (Truer words were never spoken, by the way. -WG).
From there my life adventure took me on a wild ride through advertising and ultimately this website, and though I have learned and experienced a lot over the years, I’m still savoring the ride. And why not? There’s still plenty to do and see and experience, and there’s no point sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to happen.
But as someone who was fortunate enough to witness Detroit’s Golden Age up close and from a front-row seat, it’s no secret that the looming transition to alternative propulsion is cause for a great deal of consternation. Make no mistake, electrified propulsion is cool and all that, but there is something decidedly missing from the equation. Yes, the instantaneous torque is indeed impressive, if the bragging rights of having blistering acceleration is all you’re after, but beyond that, what? There is simply no visceral appeal and no sound and fury. I loved slot cars as a kid, but that was a long time ago.
The reality for most people is that in the coming transition to fully electric vehicles – unless confined to the urban slog – will only thrive as second vehicles. Yes, if you rumble around the city and that is all you demand from your vehicle you will certainly be able to do just fine with a fully electric vehicle as your only mode of transport. But if you venture out on longer trips, the notion of planning a trip around charging stations is not something that most people are going to want to put up with. Where’s my sense of adventure, you might ask? My sense of adventure is just fine, thank you, but stopping for extended periods of time on a road trip to recharge is not my idea of a good time.
And during the winter months, the effort to live with a fully-electric vehicle in frigid temperatures - with a reduced range by half - is simply unacceptable. Oh, you haven’t heard about range reduction in the freezing cold? You probably haven’t if you’ve only listened to electric car zealots bragging about the advantages of their vehicles. But make no mistake, in the cold weather parts of this country electric vehicle drivers are in for a rude awakening. Want to use that heater? The range goes down. How about those heated seats and that heated steering wheel, if you ordered those options? The range goes down.
That’s why I have to shake my head when I hear all of the rosy predictions about the coming Age of Electrification. I see global auto manufacturers dumping hundreds of billions of dollars on electrification, whether forced to by government regulations or in the blue-sky belief that it’s What’s Next, but the realities of this looming transition don’t exactly jibe with these massively aggressive plans. According to a report from the Manhattan Institute by Mark P. Mills, entitled “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking” those realities are sobering. In fact, they’re downright ugly. Here are just a few:
· Hydrocarbons supply over 80% of world energy: If all that were in the form of oil, the barrels would line up from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and that entire line would grow by the height of the Washington Monument every week.