By on January 11, 2019

The trail-trampling fodder of the previous post — Volkswagen’s rugged, hypothetical, yet-unnamed electric off-roader — sparked this question, as it really seems there’s little ground the once nerdy and impractical electric vehicle can’t claim.

The EV revolution, if indeed that’s what it is, started a decade ago with Tesla’s Lotus-bodied roadster, and continues at an ever growing speed. As of this writing, choice is already plentiful. Come two years or so, and the options could be virtually limitless.

Is there a segment where you just can’t see the EV becoming a fixture?

Call your bank, assess your funds, and you can, in early 2019, get into an electric sedan, compact or midsize. Hatches are there, too, and the first mass-market, battery-powered crossovers have already begun to arrive. Sporty (Jaguar I-Pace) or practical (Hyundai Kona EV)? Keep in mind the Kia Soul EV’s been around for some time. Rivian would love to sell you a larger electric SUV in the near future, as would Tesla and Ford. Oh, and Volkswagen. It has a microbus coming, in addition to a two-row crossover, three-row crossover, and the possible aforementioned off-roader.

Those horrified by the thought of ridding themselves of jerry can assistance while crawling through the backcountry have PHEV versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport to choose from, and Jeep’s plug-in Wrangler is hot on their heels.

Pickup truck fan? Rivian wants in on that, too. Same with Atlis, which debuted an electric concept just a few days ago. (Workhorse would argue it was first on the scene.) Tesla also sees the pickup market as fertile ground, with the Silicon Valley lifestyle maker planning to unveil a prototype later this year. Maybe. Meanwhile, it’s Ford’s intent to bring serious electrification to the segment in a big way with its forthcoming F-150 hybrid. Depending on the truck’s reception, this could cause domestic rivals to respond in kind.

We’ve already seen how high-zoot sports cars can go gas-free, as, oddly, this was the vehicle type that broke the seal. Italian automakers have electric propulsion in their sights for future models. Even motorsports isn’t immune, with Formula E offering emissions-free thrills for the few who choose to attend. Life on two wheels suit you better? Harley-Davidson wants a word.

There’s few, if any, areas of autodom where EVs aren’t trying to make inroads, but which segment will hold out the longest with primarily ICE-powered vehicles? It would seem that pickups, which require sizeable (and expensive) battery packs to move their hefty bulk, even when unladen, is the obvious answer. Still, you might have other ideas. Sound off in the comments.

[Image: Atlis Motor Vehicles]

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64 Comments on “QOTD: Does the Electric Realm Have Borders?...”


  • avatar
    thelaine

    Take away the taxpayer transfer payments/subsidies/credits and let’s find out together.

    • 0 avatar
      theBrandler

      Exactly this. Why are we subsidizing the rich again?

    • 0 avatar

      The only value in a tax credit is that the extra sales will hasten R&D to overcome the obstacles.

      Forget the environmental angle – ultimately you’re trading one set of issues for another.

      Consider the economics.

      Electric motors are easier and therefore less expensive to manufacture and less expensive to maintain.

      Once the battery/charging issues are overcome the rush will begin. The key is to build vehicles that are GREAT VEHICLES TO BEGIN WITH; THEY JUST HAPPEN TO BE ELECTRIC.

      Then adoption will speed up to the point that within 10 years, there’ll be viable electric options in all segments.

      If they out-accelerate due to their instant torque…
      Out-handle due to battery placement giving them a lower center-of-gravity…
      Stop easier due to regenerative braking…
      Are easier to maintain over the short – and long haul…
      At a price competitive with their ICE equivalents…

      The question will become, why wouldn’t you go electric?

    • 0 avatar
      vehic1

      So easy to criticize EVs, after years and years of “taxpayer transfer payments/subsidies” in the Billions, to the oil companies.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        In fairness, you’d have to tax the electricity flowing into the EV like you tax the fuel going into a tank for this argument to hold water.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Now, now vehic1, don’t let facts get in the way! You are correct. Nobody grouses about gifts to Corporate America, but grease the wheels for a nascent technology, especially one that has a whiff of environmentalism, and the usual Fox crowd starts bleating.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    EVs are a solution to a specific problem….furthering the goal of producing power cleanly and efficiently at purposefully designed power plants instead of homegrown ICEs…they increase our flexibility and maximize our ability to capitalize on developments in energy technology.

    Hip, economical commuters and ludicrously fast hybrids make the most sense… because until the production and development costs come down EV success will hinge on being able to convince those with large expendable incomes to buy their toys.

  • avatar
    theBrandler

    Muscle cars. It’s juts no a muscle car if it doesn’t have a V8 under the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Is it still a “muscle car” if it gets spanked regularly in the 1/4 mile by an EV?

      Since I’m asking about the definition of “muscle car”, is a 60s muscle car still that if a modern Camry can beat it in every performance metric?

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Wow I hadn’t realized the Camry was such an awesome performer! Now I can cancel my restoration of my ’69 Cougar big block!! Thank you!!!

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          I owned a 68 Cougar…not a big block but a nicely warmed up small block. A modern Camry would spank it. My Fiesta will stop that 5.0 Mustang I lusted after in High School.

          I love the old cars though, but by todays standards very few would be called fast.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I have to agree with Art. We are romanticizing stuff from our youth.
            “1968 Mercury Cougar 302 V-8 4-speed (man. 4) 0-60 mph in 8.2 sec,and quarter mile time is 16.5 sec.”
            “1967 Mercury Cougar Marauder 390 GT V-8 Merc-O-Matic” “0-60 mph in 6.6 sec””quarter mile time is 14.8”

            “2018 Camry XSE did the quarter mile in 14.3 seconds” “Camry from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds”

            The Camry is faster than a 1967-68 Mercury cougar with 302 or 390.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “is a 60s muscle car still that if a modern Camry can beat it in every performance metric?”

        I think this is a weak comment. The Camry will also outperform a Stutz Bearcat, Bentley Speed Six, or 300SEL 6.3. It would likely be a driver’s race with a *250 GTO* through a quarter mile. I don’t agree with the idea that the present diminishes the past.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It’s like saying today’s Dubstep/techno is way better than Classic Rock because it’s louder with more boom boom. That’s fine when your tastes are in your ass.

          Never mind the style, original muscle cars were meant to be modified and for peak performance, as if they’re de-tuned for the showroom, insurance purposes, etc.

          When I was a kid, long before I could drive, mom-n-pop speed (and marine) shops were everywhere. Remember Super Shops?

          I’m not sure why I don’t lust for a ’19 Camry, but you can keep it. Yuk, I don’t care how fast it is.

          I’d much rather have (for example) a fully restored/mod (or extremely low miles original) ’87 Mustang 5.0 LX “Notch” with crank windows, radio delete, shorty headers, GT40 intake, underdrive pulleys, Pro Shifter, 3.73 gears, aftermarket control arms, KONI shocks, tuned sway bars, camber plates, 16X8 basket weave wheels, etc, etc, the way god intended.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          “I don’t agree with the idea that the present diminishes the past.”

          You’re a true car guy yet your reason, moderation and lucid articulation are exemplary.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            RWD? Mid engine? V8? Supercharger? Big block? Manual trans? Just some of the things they’ll go cradle to grave never experiencing nor can relate.

            I guess “car enthusiasts” come in all forms, and clearly some will only ever come to know muscle/pony cars by how they show on paper or specs sheet. It’s sad, really.

            Things like HP vs Torque, rev band, gearing, final drive, power-to-weight, etc, just don’t compute. Nor why anyone would ever consider a Vinyl LP record, 45, etc, when there’s a MP3 downloads.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Forgive me for still being irritated by the electric evangelists who try to explain every flaw away or make apologize for things they wouldn’t accept on a Chevy Sonic let alone a Tesla 3.

    https://youtu.be/wEsOr87BJFU

    I would accept those build quality issues on a used Hyundai.

    Otherwise I have no “problem” with electrics its just that I have ONE car for myself that I commute in and travel hundreds of miles per day in when I need to. If I could afford to have a “commuter only” vehicle I might pick up a Leaf or something similar.

  • avatar
    eCurmudgeon

    “Is there a segment where you just can’t see the EV becoming a fixture?”

    Pretty much anywhere that gets colder than California on a regular basis.

  • avatar
    HelloWorld

    “Is there a segment where you just can’t see the EV becoming a fixture?”

    No offense but is this a trick question?

    I’m writing this from Germany, and the number of electric vehicles available here already (!) is pretty astonishing.

    Just look at this list:

    VW e-Golf

    e-Up

    Nissan Leaf

    Renault Zoe

    Tesla Model 3

    Tesla Model S

    Tesla Model X

    BMW i3

    Mitsubshi i-Miev/Citroen C-Zero/Peugeot Ion (all three basically the same car, admittedly)

    Smart EQ

    Kia Soul EV

    Opel Ampera-E

    Hyundai Ioniq Elektro

    Hyundai Kona Elektro

    Jaguar i-Pace

    Audi e-Tron

    Nissan E-NV200 Evalia

    Renault Kangoo (Maxi) Z.E.

    You may read this and be wondering now: Gee, there must be TONS of electric vehicles rolling on the roads in Germany, given this choice.

    Answer: Nope.

    Sales numbers of electric vehicles continue to be _a mere fraction_ of ICE-powered vehicles.

    Conclusion: Car buyers (at least in The Fatherland) have no interest in electric vehicles.
    And unless we’re looking at countries in which EVs are heavily subsidized with taxpayer money (Norway), I doubt the picture looks less bleak in other Western countries.

    The media keeps pushing this gigantic hype about how the future of cars will be electric but hey seem to forget one crucial factor in their equation: the average car buyer WHO DOES NOT FLIPPING _WANT_ TO BUY AN ELECTRIC VEHICLE.

    Hence, the question is not if there is a segment in which electric vehicles will become a fixture.

    The question still is whether electric vehicles will become a fixture _AT ALL_.

    • 0 avatar
      theBrandler

      This is a fantastic point. EV apologetics act like EV sales are shooting off to the moon, when in reality they are not even 2% in the USA. If magically you could no longer buy an EV tomorrow, the market wouldn’t really notice.

      • 0 avatar
        vehic1

        Let’s see – did ICE cars replace horses almost immediately, with little to no fuel available, etc.?

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          It was pretty quick. That model T was a significantly more capable tool than a horse though. EV’s may be cleaner, faster, and smoother but they don’t really enhance the capabilities of an ICE car from a consumers perspective and if you go beyond the range represent a step back.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      This.

      I am totally willing to consider a hybrid system, potentially.

      (I’d love it if, say, my SuperDuty was a hybrid, with one axle electrically driven, and one gas driven – improve my fuel economy AND let me have 4WD without having to have a transfer case, and potentially no driveshaft? SIGN ME UP.

      Similarly, I’m pretty sure Volvo *could have* done something compelling with my XC70 and a hybrid system, in principle.)

      Pure electrics have no appeal to me, because I am not a hippie who only commutes around town.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Did you hear what judge in California said? He wants their electric-gas company turn off the power as soon as any wind appears. go charge it now

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Why are all my comments have to await for moderation?

  • avatar
    raph

    For automotive use I don’t think there isn’t an application where a BEV can’t replace an ICE powered vehicle. Its just a prolusion system and with battery steady improvements in battery technology eliminating the range issues its a moot issue.

    That said, as a conveyance they are fine and offer some practical improvements over ICE powered vehicles but for me at least they are just an appliance. There is nothing there I find terribly exciting though since an electric motor and its drivetrain removes all the elements that provide an emotional connection to a car or truck or whatever.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “There is nothing there I find terribly exciting though since an electric motor and its drivetrain removes all the elements that provide an emotional connection to a car”

      That’s not true. Instant torque and acceleration are important elements that provide an emotional connection to a car. Also, are you saying there are no Tesla owners that have emotional connections to their cars???

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “and with battery steady improvements in battery technology eliminating the range issues its a moot issue. ”

      I’ve been hearing that for 20 years, and it keeps not happening.

      Range is … better, yeah. But not so much better than “they’ll just replace all combustion engines”, and I see no reason to think the curve is gonna get a lot steeper on improvements in density Real Soon Now, particularly.

  • avatar
    TheBestPlaceEver

    It’s shocking how fast this is all happening, but then again the fact that you can casually burn petrochemicals in neighborhoods with thousands of people is also kind of absurd when you think about it. I’ve always felt that cars would never be permitted if they were invented today (and DEFINITELY not motorcycles in our “modern” nanny state). I bet we’ll see ICE bans announced in cities like Portland soon :(

    I’m going to second the post and say pickup trucks, but not for engineering reasons – I bet the last ICEs we see are the lifestyle guys that are making a statement, not the construction or trades set. EVs are great for torque, so people that pull stumps etc will probably take take them up at the same rate as the rest of the world.

    Also, minivans – only because they won’t make minivans in 5 years, they’re being rapidly replaced with totally-not-minivan 3 row crossovers. That’s a shame in my opinion!

    • 0 avatar
      whynotaztec

      I get the torque thing but I can’t imagine batteries sufficient to power hard working trucks whether it’s an f250 plowing snow or a semi hauling 80,000 lbs on the highway.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Tesla’s semi is preparing for production, and it will have a GVWR of 80,000 lbs.

        • 0 avatar
          whynotaztec

          I know, and I can’t wrap my mind around it. Is it a huge battery pack that would eat into cargo capacity? Would the battery run out before the driver gets his 10 hours?

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            It’s a huge battery pack, using a new charging standard Tesla came up with.

            To be fair, I do think it has less cargo capacity as a consequence of the big battery, but it’s still substantial. The cost per pound per mile still drops because of the vehicle’s efficiency.

            If the 500-mile range claim of the top semi is correct, I’d imagine a driver could get close to 10 hours depending on where they were going.

          • 0 avatar
            Giskard

            Just to add to what SCE to AUX said, but it sounds like the new Megachargers are being designed to charge the 500 mile range semi’s battery pack to 80% in about 30 minutes (that’s what was said at the reveal event). They were saying that most drivers would legally be required to stop for a break after 400 miles or so of driving anyway so it isn’t supposed to substantially increase the length of a long haul load. I’ve driven semis on the family farm, but I don’t do it for a living so I can’t verify what the legal break requirements are.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Take the city I live in. Lots of the housing stock is old, small apartment buildings included. It’s a struggle to get cars off the road overnight for snow clearing. Now how do you plan for electrickery hookups for those situations? Say for a half-dozen vehicles in a long narrow driveway? People put up with the inconvenience on storm days, then revert to street parking. It also gets damn cold, and we get freeze-thaw cycles constantly, and vehicles are parked outside. Try thawing out an ice-covered windshield from the minor energy in a battery in a wind at minus 10C. Imagine electric cables strewn about the streets and sidewalks frozen in ice, then ripped up by plows and Bobcats, perhaps ripping service entrances off the sides of buildings.

    It’s all right for the wealthy airy-fairy suburbanites with garages to wax poetic about EVs “why would you buy anything else?”. Well, if we decide to rebuild our urban housing infrastructure, sure. The Waymo autonomous gonzo freaks would also love everything to turn into neat little grids that their Version 0.2 driving aid could follow in sunny weather, but hard rain and snow they can’t cope with yet, talking heads yakking on about the AI revolution notwithstanding.

    So society has to be turned upside down for the greater part of the population just to satisfy EVs and autonomy? Go away and come back when you have a better idea! Satisfying elite investors has run its course on this one. EVs and autonomy are not flexible enough for real life for the masses at the moment, except for the fortunate few who cannot for the life of them imagine life in someone else’s shoes, and think it’s all just wonderful. As the German commenter above mentions, they have several dozen EVs available there, and essentially nobody wants the damn things. Sensible folk.

    With authoritarian governments of both left and right persuasion – the top-down policy wonks or investors clamoring for returns from their corporate/political buddies, batteries full of relatively rare lithium, electric motor magnets requiring doses of even more uncommon rare-earths, the only way to really “sell” these chariots will be by government decree. And then they’ll tax the hell out of transport electricity, currently free of any tax in most jurisdictions at the moment. The piteous shrieking of the privileged when their free EV pass is rescinded will be wondrous to behold.

    It’s all a complete boondoggle to me. You’d think someone would have planned out this momentous change, but all we see is complete disorganization and much leaping up and down instead. Any dope with an EV to flog, or any group of “leading-edge” innovators with an autonomous driving “solution” can claim virtually anything, and there’s no way to check up on the larded BS but to try it out and kill off a few folk in the trials. Can’t we do better? Like having standards as we do for building or electrical codes? Or is everyone just wandering around muttering “the free market solves all”? Yup, sure. That’s why there’s intensive certification for airliners. But when it comes to vehicles, any Tom, Dick or Harry is good to go. Does not fit with my engineer brain. Or Toyota’s judging by their call for standards yesterday. This change is more than some phone app – it needs to be treated seriously.

    • 0 avatar
      nwfmike

      Very well said and not to mention,I don’t see any reasonable way to recycle/dispose of the batteries that are available just *right now*. They have managed to kick the can down the road by giving batteries a second life driving other low-need devices but then what?

      You are 100% right on that they need to completely re-think the entire electrified/automated infrastructure but along with that, all driving freedoms that we have been used to probably disappear. That matters at least to most of those probably 30+ years old. Each succeeding generation won’t know any better and they’ll think life is grand.

      I’m not a total curmudgeon and recognize the need to get on to some kind of renewable energy source and these initial and painful to watch/experience baby steps will hopefully lead to at least some good technological breakthroughs. It’s going to be a MUCH different world in 50 years or so and I’m glad my battery will be worn out by then.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      A good post, full of interesting points.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The comments say it all the time, but nobody in the industry wants to talk about the large percentage of Americans whose living situations preclude the use of an EV. I would seriously entertain an EV if I was able to plug in at my dwelling, but that option simply doesn’t exist for me or many other Americans. It is untenable to own an EV and rely on public charging stations.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      Very much this. I live in a college town where over half of the housing units are apartments. A lot of peoples’ journey to this town starts with moving onto campus as a freshman and sharing a lot with several thousand other students, to finishing school living off-campus in an apartment with a designated parking space or maybe a one-car garage, then maybe moving up to a better apartment with a nominal two-car garage. They may not have even 120V available at their parking spot till the better apartment. Continuing up into home ownership brings the option of wiring for 240V, but garages are still often more theoretically than practically two-car affairs till you get to the better 3-bedroom twinhomes in the $200-220k’s or 3-4 bedroom single-family homes around the house price median of $240k. One ends up needing to be in about the top 30% to have the ability to park the EV car in the garage, actually walk around it amongst all the other stuff that lives there like the snowblower and the 90-gallon trash bins, and plug it into the charger.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “One ends up needing to be in about the top 30% to have the ability to park the EV car in the garage,”

        Then just keep it outside and plug into an outdoor outlet. You don’t need a garage. If you only have on-street parking, if you can afford a 300+ mile EV, you could just quick charge or ultra-charge (300kW+) every few days. Not perfect, but you could do it.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          “Then just keep it outside and plug into an outdoor outlet. You don’t need a garage.”

          Yep, there’s a boat and a Tahoe in my garage so the Volt charges outside every night year round, and I’m in MN so I have winter to deal with. I run the cord under the garage door and have found opening the lid on one of my garbage cans and sticking the plug inside when I’m gone works great for keeping snow, ice and rain off it.

  • avatar
    theBrandler

    ATVs. I bet ATVs are going to be one of the last hold outs. If you go wondering off into the wilderness, you need a gas can to get you back – There is not now, nor is there any future solution with EVs that is as simple. Even bringing a second battery would be considerably combersome and you would either have to be able to swap the batteries, or wait for the pack you brought to charge the one in the ATV.

    Also, boats, specifically container ships and military ships. I could see cruise ships going electric though.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      No shipping or cruise vessel is going to be battery-electric, because that *can never work*; the required amount of battery is ludicrous, and how do you even charge that much battery in a plausible amount of time?

      (Big military vessels have been electromotive for decades – nuclear power!

      But not “electric” in this context.)

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        There is a very small electric container vessel, the MV Yara Birkeland, that is under construction. It’s 260′ I think and only needs to travel 30 miles between ports.

        For military ships, there’s Japan’s diesel/lithium battery submarine, the Oryu.

        As for ATVs, offhand I can think of two, the EPIC Amp and the Polaris Ranger EV.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. Wilderness – by definition – is uncivilized.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Plenty of folks I know of running jacked up electric club cars as hunting vehicles.

  • avatar
    forward_look

    We have two cars, one due for replacement. We’re retired but need to get around town (5-10 miles) and some looong trips. We have 2 garages with 240V.

    But if I buy a brand new EV now, it will be worth nothing in a couple years when improved vehicles come out.

    So I’ll wait, like everybody else. Besides, you can’t even look at an EV for sale in upstate NY.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    When the examples have to include hybrids, we realize that “electric” is trying too hard already.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    Fire truck. They are already heavy with a substantial water load and aux equipment, they have high peak loads and, if being used as a relay pumper, can have high power demands over an extended time interval. And they have to be capable of being returned to service ready to respond to another call with a minimum of delay. Diesel engines that weigh substantially less than a large array of batteries and using a high energy density fuel that can be replenished quickly will be hard to beat in this application.

  • avatar
    jatz

    If that picture is a render it’s the most convincing visual lie I’ve yet seen.

    The reflections are especially brilliant; the only ersatz is the slight contrast mismatch between truck and background, particularly the way the tires appear to pop out against the dirt surface.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Rockets

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Hybrid diesel electrics been hauling ICE vehicles for nearly a 100 years. And speaking of infrastructure..post WW2 our county easily had twice the “gas” stations we’ve today. 4 in the small town I grew up in and another 2 in the immediate rural area. Today there is 1. Seriously overbuilt.

    I can charge a vehicle overnight on the equivalent of a dryer plugin? Certainly easier than going to Home Depot & buying a refinery in a box. Get off my AstroTurf Luddites!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel_Electric-class_ferry

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I’ve said before that with the current technology EV’s are almost a no-brainer for multi-car households as a second or third vehicle. Initial purchase cost being the biggest limiting factor currently. But I suspect China will take care of that in a few years.

    I’ll be trailering from Minneapolis to the upper UP of Michigan for a snowmobile trip in a few weeks and it will be a long, long time before an EV tow vehicle is available that can replace the ICE tow vehicle that will be doing that job.

    So anything powerful enough to tow something that sits on tandem axles long distances to remote areas in the winter will probably not be replaced with anything electric in my lifetime.


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