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Alternating Currents: Transitioning to EVs scorched earth style


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My ships are burning on the beach, and I’m the one who set them ablaze. There is no turning back now, no way to beat a retreat. I’ve turned my face toward the enemy, and whether I march forth alone or we all step synchronically toward a better future, I’ll take that step regardless. I know that it’s no more possible to single-handedly conquer climate change than it is to exercise dominion over death itself, but rather than sit around and wait for either to sink its teeth into me, I’ll get busy living. To rail against the coming shadow threatening to engulf me is to live. 

Since the day I earned my driving license, my existence has been inextricably linked to the automobile. I have quite literally crafted my life around cars, driving, and to some extent the gasoline which facilitates that life. It’s time to leave that all behind, or at least the gasoline part. I can’t half-ass this, or I won’t be able to take myself seriously. Not only am I supportive of an electric future, but I’m all in. I’m burning my ships. I’m turning my back on petroleum distillate, internal combustion, and the cars powered by it. 

Hernán Cortés Museo del Prado
Hernán Cortés famously burnt his ships to motivate his men. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

I can’t lie, this hurts me to my core. It hurts to have to give up a portion of myself. I’m saying a preemptive goodbye to every Dodge Viper, Bentley Turbo R, Porsche 924 Turbo, BMW 2002, and Datsun 240Z I’ll now never own. To defenestrate any gas and oil defender inside of me hurts, but it hurts worse to know the contributions I’ve made to the destruction of the planet. No, better to focus my energies from this moment forward on not only reducing my carbon emissions.

Last week, a report from J.D. Power indicated that people who have purchased an EV are interested in buying another EV in the future. Not only am I interested in it, but I’ll never buy another internal combustion engine car in my life. Electric cars have cleared the hurdle from innovator to early adopter, but I am neither. I’m what economists would call an “early majority buyer”. All it took was getting me behind the wheel of an EV to truly sell me on the experience. Those early majority buyers are starting to make the transition, and I’m proof of that. 

I am an outlier. I am not what you would typically call an early adopter, though I did finally buy my own well-used electric vehicle late in 2020. It’s quite rare that I adopt any early tech, simply for the reason of affordability. I’m always a generation behind on gaming consoles, televisions, and cell phones. 

That’s the great thing about the evolution of electric mobility tech, however, it’s evolving at such a rapid rate that I was able to not only find a previous generation of EV, but it was cheap as chips. As a daily driver around town machine, my early Nissan Leaf serves nearly every need I have. It’s great, and I love it, and I’m never going back to gas. 

I’m kicking the habit cold turkey. No more surreptitious searches for clandestine cars I don’t need. As daily drivers go, there’s no beating an EV. Even the cheapest and oldest one I could find asks for little trade-off while offering reliable, quiet, comfortable across-town transit. Lately, every time I drive my wife’s station wagon I find myself annoyed with the process of something as simple as starting the thing. I have noticed an increased perception of the car’s NVH. I am now perturbed every time I have to stop into a gas station to refill it with combustible fluid that is less than 50% efficient. Driving a decade old electric is just more pleasant and more convenient than a three year old ICE vehicle. I’m out. 

That is, I’m never going to buy another gas-powered vehicle. New or old, I’m done. But not only that, I’m going to be offloading my stable of gas-powered cars as well, making the transition to fully electric. This currently includes a 1995 Audi S6 sedan, a 1983 Porsche 944, a 1976 Porsche 912E, and a 1997 Porsche Boxster. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and the Boxster and 912E will be sticking around because I simply love them too deeply to commit to their sale. So, they’ll have to make the switch with me. 

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The Boxster is in transition to its future as a street-legal track car, and for the purposes of track day and competition, I will allow myself the indulgence of gasoline. Here’s the trick, though; I’m converting it into a plug-in hybrid. With a Nissan Leaf drivetrain powering the front wheels, I’ll still be able to drive the car around town on full electric, preserving the gasoline engine explicitly for track use. For my own sanity and a connection to my own past,  I’ll allow myself the ability to burn a limited amount of fuel in certain circumstances. 

The 912E, from the moment I purchased it, has been my forever car. That hasn’t changed, despite its flame-spitting non-catalyzed exhaust pipes. As my own human evolution continues through this crazy thing we call life, my cars must evolve with me. This car is simply begging for a Tesla swap to more or less triple its horsepower. I’ll miss being able to drive 600 miles on a tank, but with enough batteries for 200 miles of range or so, and the ability to fast charge, I’ll be perfectly happy. 

It won’t happen overnight, and I won’t be making any demands that my wife give up her car. But rest assured that I have set my mind on completing my personal electrified transition. You have my word, and word is bond. I’m stepping into the ring to go toe to toe with the climate, it would be cool if we could make this a tag-team thing. It’s just like giving up Amazon, deleting your Facebook, or going vegetarian, the only first step is go give yourself no other option. Scorched earth.

Written by Bradley Brownell
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