A “Breakthrough”

  • June 14, 2023

When Charles Kettering designed the electric starter motor more than a century ago, it was a breakthrough. From that moment forward, anyone could start a car – not just the mostly men who had the strength (and bravery) to manually hand-crank the engine to life. Radial tires, disc brakes, electronic fuel injection – all of them breakthroughs in design that resulted in cars that were functionally superior to those that came before.

EVs, on the other hand . . .

The latest “breakthrough” comes in the form of the Lucid Air – which is an electric car, not an anti-depressant med. It can recover 208 miles of range in just 20 minutes!

To appreciate just how magnificent a “breakthrough” this is, consider that a 1980 Chevrolet Chevette – which averaged 30 miles-per-gallon – could recover 210 miles of range in about three minutes. That’s how long it takes, give or take, to pump the seven gallons of fuel needed to travel that distance into the Chevy’s tank. Spend another minute or two at the pump – so as to fill the car’s 12 gallon tank – and the range goes up to 360 miles.

Meanwhile, the Lucid waits.

It also costs.

Base price $139,650. The ’80 Chevette listed for $4,917 – equivalent to just over $12,000 in today’s debauched currency. One could have bought a dozen brand-new 1980 Chevettes for the price of one 2023 Lucid Air. Or just buy eleven – which would leave enough money (vs. the cost to buy the one Lucid) to buy gas for one of the Chevettes you bought for the next 3-5 years.

You’d have spare Chevettes for the next 20-plus years, too.

Of course, the Lucid is no Chevette – and that’s just the point. The Lucid is functionally inferior to the Chevette, as a car. As efficient transportation. As a way to get from A to B inexpensively and with minimal hassle (and cost).

The Lucid doesn’t go nearly as far – and it takes much longer to get there. It inconveniences its owner. And it costs him a fortune. The only thing it does better than the Chevette is accelerate more quickly. A codpiece bragging point that’s as functionally useless – being illegal to use – as spending a lot of money to own a tank you can’t legally use to blow stuff up with.

It is a metric of the insanity of our times that “breakthroughs” are measured in terms of more cost and less functionality than that which preceded. EVs – and “battery technology” – are being foisted on us like a return to AM/FM dial radios with two speakers. Maybe soon they’ll come with 8-track tape decks.

The car press dutifully eggs-on the insanity, just as the rest of the press did during the “pandemic.” You may recall The cases! The cases! – and then the rest. But never the facts. Never in context. And here we are, again.

It is reported – as if it were a “breakthrough” – that there are EVs that can suck up about half or less the range of any current-year non-electric economy car in about four times as long as it takes to pump a full tank of fuel into an economy car, which can then take you at least twice as far.

And it is a “breakthrough” – relative to other EVs, which take even longer to recover even less range.

But it is not a breakthrough relative to what we have been fortunate enough to have become so used to that many of us have come to take it for granted. It is currently in the process of being taken away. Yet because it is not being reported, it is taken by many as if it isn’t happening.

Think of it as a new take on Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell.

Instead, they tell you a great deal about how stupendous a “breakthrough” it is that you can now buy EVs that only make you wait nearly half an hour rather than 45 minutes to an hour (or longer). And they do not tell you that this “breakthrough” is only available at the torturously misnamed “fast” chargers that make you wait someplace that isn’t at home. Meaning, you won’t be there will you wait. Unless you have time to wait overnight.

Otherwise, you’ll be waiting at a Sheetz or Wal-Mart or similar.

And they never tell you that the range you see is often much less than the range you actually get – meaning more (and sooner) waiting.

Isn’t it great?

But wait! Another “breakthrough”! You don’t necessarily have to spend six figures on a Lucid Air to enjoy the boon of waiting only 20 minutes at a Sheetz or Wal-Mart to accomplish what a 1980 Chevette could do in less than five. You could “save money” – vs. the Lucid – by purchasing a Kia EV6 “long range” for only $43,920. It can draw back 191 miles of displayed range in about the same time that it takes the Lucid to recover 208 – and it only costs about three times as much as a 1980 Chevette!

Ah, progress!

Kettering is probably spinning even faster in his grave than the self-starter he invented all those years ago.

. . .

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