The Immortal ICE King

The Immortal ICE King 1 photo
A few years back, when the first forays into the development of electric vehicles were being made, I used to compare EVs to the ex-wife bullet/mini-rocket, shown in Iron Man 2 by Stark's rival to arm the unpainted Iron Man suit. A bullet that made a lot of noise, but in the end came to little actual damage.
At the time (the year was 2010), the launch of the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf made people gasp in awe at the cars that would change the world: Death of the ICE engine, Revenge of the Electric Car and other pompous-titled stories ran in the media at the time.

Since then, nearly a decade has passed. ICE (internal combustion engine) is still here, more powerful than before despite the scandals some automakers managed to drag themselves into. And the EVs, well, there’s many more of them now, but still not a force to be reckoned with.

Therefore, the comparison to the ex-wife bullet/mini-rocket somewhat stands. Electric mobility is still a lot of talk with little action, a perfect body with no backbone, a dream of glory that may still never come.

Sure, EVs are a tremendous invention They are going to save the planet, end our addiction to fossil fuels and help colonize other worlds. That will happen, but in a few hundred years or so.

We currently have in the industry a considerable number of carmakers that have joined in the race, planning electric after electric model, with 2025 set as a target for most of them to have fully-electrified versions of every car in the lineup. But it all seems a sham, a smoke screen, a publicity stunt. It is, after all, kosher to have an electric model in the lineup, even if you sell only three a year.

The one thing that is missing in this entire botched adventure, the most important one, is government support. Very few countries have begun handing out subsidies for the acquisition of an electric vehicle, fewer have a sensible plan of developing a suitable charging infrastructure and only one announced its intention to phase out combustion-engined cars in the foreseeable future completely.

That, unfortunately, means that electric vehicles, although a reality, are still far from being common placed. For now, owning an electric car is just cool, a whim of the moment, or a good reason to go sightseeing from time to time with a bunch of nuts with similar interests.

The population feels the lack of government involvement. Since the government is not ready to give up fuel excise taxes (which, along with taxes for cigarettes account for most some of European countries’ budgets), the customers are not ready to embrace EVs. So they’d rather continue paying taxes than getting involved in an adventure of a lifetime.

Driving an EV differs little from driving a normal car (see, we still consider travel-by-explosion normal). Customers can buy an EV cheaper thanks to subsidies here and there. EVs allow for cheaper upkeep as well.

But then what? How will they charge them? Will they only travel in cities, where they are likely to find a power source? Why go to all the trouble?

Imagine that years of diesel emissions-scandal managed to do nothing regarding public perception for combustion engines. Sure, Volkswagen cheated, lied and tried to cover up the lie, yet still managed to sell 10.7 million cars globally in 2017, the highest number allegedly achieved by any automaker.

At the beginning of the month, Mazda released the result of a study it conducted together with Ipsos MORI on the European market. Of the 11,008 people questioned across key European markets in the survey, the majority still feels combustion engines are the way to go.

In short, 58% believe there is “a lot of innovation and improvement still to come with petrol and diesel engines,” while 31% of drivers “hope that diesel cars will continue to exist.

Mind you, data released at the beginning of the year by JATO Dynamics showed that in 2017 the Old Continent had the lowest number of diesel car registrations in more than a decade. But the shift was not from diesel to alternative-fuel powered cars, but from diesel to gasoline.

Why, then, are carmakers in such a hurry to announce more and more electric vehicles? Why don’t we see more and more announcements about the creation of the badly needed infrastructure to support them?

Building a charging infrastructure does not pay off. There are not enough electric vehicles around to make it worthwhile. Gas stations could, in theory, provide a plug or two for needy drivers (some, very few, do), but they just don’t want to. There’s little money in that.

Sure, the fuss will continue. Because, seeing how decades of research and billions spent produced negligible results, automakers will try a new, exciting gimmick to get the public’s mind off things.. Just as they are now trying to shift focus from electric vehicles to autonomous ones.

You might say that it took automobiles only 100 or so years to get from the start line to where they are now. That’s true. But it did so on an empty market. An inexistent industry. There was nothing there to oppose the change.

We didn’t have 100 years of auto-evolution. What we had is a century of creating patterns, habits and a robust oil industry that will not easily go down.

Patterns and habits that will perhaps take millennia to change. And an oil industry that may never be defeated.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Daniel Patrascu
Daniel Patrascu profile photo

Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories