Sex and Electric Vehicles in the City

Published: Feb 8, 2022  |  

Investor, media commentator and CEO of JML

A little G-Wiz electric car was crawling along the A40 in front of me, making its way into London from the Hangar Lane gyratory. It was a dismal rainy day in November. I recall mild amusement that its tail lights were rhythmically glowing and dimming to the frequency of its feeble wipers as they shuddered back and forth across its diminutive windscreen. Comfortable in my warm, solidly-built, fossil-fuelled Audi, I surmised that only a slightly unhinged individual—whilst no doubt a dedicated green crusader—could possibly wish to risk their very existence in such a death trap. What’s more, I was certain that given the evidence on this journey, battery-powered vehicles would remain the domain of eccentrics, milk floats, and children’s toys for decades to come.

Fast forward only a few years and the world of EVs had been turned on its head. In 2016, I persuaded my company to let me buy a Tesla Model S. I quoted our eco-credentials, savings on running costs and government tax incentives. But in truth, what had fundamentally attracted me to this car were its performance statistics. During a walk along Oxford Street—London’s most famous and densely packed shopping district—I happened to find myself in front of a Tesla store. That alone was a revelation, as car showrooms had previously been located on grim industrial estates, staffed by men in dogtooth jackets. In the window of this “store” was a Model S with a placard of information next to it. It was—and still is—a lovely looking car, but what really caught my attention were the nought-to-sixty times detailed in small text. As a former boy racer/petrolhead, this measure of acceleration ability was, for me, one of the most important in determining a car’s desirability. 

That day on Oxford Street, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were several versions of the Model S available, each escalating in price, and all had impressive credentials. Listed at the very top of the range was the P100D version, with a staggering nought-to-sixty time of just 2.3 seconds. I had no idea that these things were so quick. As far as I was aware, no other car that could be bought for legal use on Britain’s roads at that time claimed such organ-displacing g-force. Those that came close were exotic hypercars, the territory of Arab princes and Russian oligarchs, yet here was a vehicle that could silently out-accelerate them all, for a fraction of the price, whilst having all the practicality needed for a school run or a weekly shop at Sainsbury’s. As well as my interest in fast cars, I have a background in electrical engineering, so what I saw before me was an irresistible combination. I vowed there and then that I would have to secure myself one of these wondrous machines no matter what it took.

I should reassure readers here that I am not being sponsored by Tesla. Whilst Elon Musk is a genius as well as quite bonkers, he and his team are pioneers who have done more than anyone else to expedite the progress of EVs. As a result, the legacy manufacturers have at last been forced to catch up. Today, there is a vast array of superb EVs to choose from, depending on your requirements. At one end of the spectrum are some extreme sportscars at astronomical prices, such as the Rimac Nevera, with an electric power unit at each wheel. These four motors individually deliver more sheer thrust than the petrol engine of most conventional sports cars. Then there are small city run-arounds such as the Peugeot e-208 and highly practical crossovers for the average family such as the Kia EV6. If it is acceleration you want and you don’t have a private bank account with Coutts, the Tesla still tops the charts on paper, although a search on YouTube appears to reveal the Porsche Taycan Turbo S beating it in a real life drag race. Things may change when the new, even faster accelerating, Tesla Model S Plaid becomes available in the UK later this year.

“Now hang on a minute,” I hear some say, “there’s nothing quite like the roar of a finely-tuned V8, right? And changing gear in a manual feels sooo good, doesn’t it? And don’t you look a bit of a plonker with a cable trailing out from your house and across the pavement to your EV?”  

People with noisy engines—even the Arab princes—will feel a trifle prehistoric if not completely foolish before very long, especially when they know they could be quietly left for dust at the lights by a family of four on a day trip to Legoland. Once you have driven an EV, you will become intoxicated by the driving experience: the way you can accelerate instantly and decelerate using just the throttle pedal (which, by the way, enhances safety through increased driver reaction time and reduces brake pad wear.) You will never want to see a gear lever again. Most importantly for the future of electrical transportation, battery and charging technology is advancing at such a rate that within three to five years there will be “petrol stations” that have familiar-looking “pumps” where one will be able to charge a car to give a range of 300 miles in little more time than it takes to fill a tank. All this, and you are saving the planet to boot!

Going back to Tesla, they have again led the way by building a comprehensive charging network throughout the UK and Europe. Their “superchargers,” which are at most motorway service stations, can already put 300 miles of range on a car in around 20 minutes. Tesla has announced that this network is being opened up to other manufacturers’ cars imminently. So whilst the conversion of petrol stations to “electricity forecourts” is a little way off, range anxiety on a long journey should shortly be a thing of the past.

Electric vehicles are ideal for cities and generally exempt from congestion and emission charges. That’s a tenuous link with the title of this article. But what’s all this got to do with sex? The cliché is that the racers and the alphas believe a cool set of wheels can attract amorous attention. Now that I’m middle-aged and happily married with kids, I have no interest in such things. I drive like a saint, and the smooth tranquil feeling of moving from A to B in an EV suits me just fine. I feel content in the knowledge that I have several hundred electric horses at my disposal, even if I’ll probably never need to trouble them. Meanwhile, I can bore people senseless with all the other benefits of electrification. Thankfully, those who hope a four-wheeled mode of transport can enhance their chances of successful mating need not despair. Today’s EVs can be fast, beautiful and sexy. Unlike the good ol’ G-Wiz which has sadly almost completely disappeared from our roads—and just like that! 

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