I am shopping for a new car, and given the high price of gasoline these days and the potentially darker days ahead, I decided to test some of the new hybrid and electric vehicles. I love all the electrical and electronic aspects of these new cars and I was hoping to find one I liked. Yet, as I discovered, these are just about the least interesting and exciting cars I have ever seen. I am not buying one.
I am a car enthusiast and have been for many years. I have always had a car that was exciting and fun to drive. Most of these were sports cars or sedans, or muscle cars. The car I am seeking to replace is a 12 year old Miata. Totally fun. Fast, good handling and 29/30 mpg on the highway. We take the top off and tool around on the back roads. Spring is a great time of year to do this in Texas as the bluebonnets and other wild flowers are everywhere. The Miata is going to be tough to replace. It has aged gracefully, but the repairs are coming all too frequently. As one dealer told me, Lou, you have just used this car up.
My test drives confirmed that hybrid/electrics are simply boring appliances. I may have just as well been driving a toaster or playing a video game. Hybrids and electrics appear to be made for those who want total isolation from the road or for those who want to appear “green”. The Prius is a good example. It drives just fine but it seriously lacks what I would call performance in the way of acceleration and handling. Besides that, it is truly ugly, in my humble opinion. What’s with the car manufacturers who make electric cars look unusual? The Nissan Leaf is another good example of that. Remember the old GM EV-1. Distinctive, but I would not want to be seen driving one.
The other hybrids are just the same. Boring, no performance and a host of other limitations that keep me from buying. First, some of them are expensive. The Chevy Volt sells for over $40K. Ouch. For that I could get another BMW. Second, limited range. Most electrics burn through their battery charge in about 100 miles. With an auxiliary gasoline engine they can go further, of course. In central Texas where I live, range is critical as nothing is close and gas stations may be few and far between. A pure electric/hybrid is just not an option if your travels are wide spread.
And what about those charging stations? A good idea and a real need if electrics are to ever thrive. But a charge is pretty expensive right now and it takes several hours. Unrealistic to say the least. I like to fill up in a few minutes and be on my way even if gasoline does cost almost $4/gallon. I want to like these cars but for now they are just transportation devices that are not acceptable to many of us who like to drive.
So I am not going green with a hybrid/electric. No offense to Prius owners who are doing their part. It is just not for me. I am sticking with a regular gasoline car that gets good mileage but also has good performance. My other car, a 2010 VW GTI is one of those. It is a blast to drive. The 0 to 60 time is sub-6 seconds and it gets 31/32 mpg on the highway. Cost only $25K too. A real winner.
I still haven’t decided what I will replace my Miata with, but it will be something that is still fun to drive and economical. After all these years the car manufacturers finally learned how to give you excitement and good looks in a gasoline car with minimal fuel expense. I suppose that eventually, the government will tell us we have to buy a hybrid. In the meantime, I don’t want to be doing time in one unless I have to. Having said that, I could change my mind about hybrid/electrics if I could afford one of those Tesla roadsters.