Electric Cars May Help Save the Planet, But the Morning News Thinks They're Rather Effete

Categories: Transportation

As a rule, I never read the DMN's automotive section, which, in case you were wondering, is in fact a thing that exists. It's not just that the section is basically one long advertisement for vehicles I'm never going to buy or that Car Talk is infinitely better as a radio show than newspaper column. Rather, as a glance at my Toyota Corolla will tell you, it's because I don't give half a shit about cars.

Despite my studied avoidance, over the weekend I found myself not only in front of the automotive section but reading DMN car guy Terry Box's review of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

Like any decent newspaperman, Box gives you a clear picture of the article in the first sentence: "Electricity belongs in the kitchen, beating pancake batter into gooey submission."

Here, Box outs himself as an unapologetic shill for the griddle cakes industry who is outspokenly biased against non-pancake related uses of electricity, such as cars, lighting and defibrillators. Not the most objective person to be writing about electric vehicles, but at least he wears that fact on his sleeve, which we assume was knitted by diesel-powered sewing machine. Still, I maintained the assumption that the "not exactly sparkling" in the headline was a metaphor for performance rather than mere physical description.

As I read on, though, I became less sure.

Sure, Box writes, the iMiEV may get 126 miles per gallon and cost less than $30,000, and electric cars in general "may someday end our dependence on oil, reverse global warming and save the planet -- or something like that."

But they're just so European looking. And not the cool kind of Europe, either. The French kind.

... take a long look at the resolutely odd, all-electric 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, also known as the "i," and ask yourself a serious, possibly life-altering question:

What in blazes do you wear while driving a vehicle that looks like a cross between a tipsy French police car and a giant computer mouse -- a significant consideration in fashion-obsessed Dallas?

I suppose you could get one of those silly gendarme hats, but I have a better idea: Wear clothes. Normal ones. Pants and a shirt. Though if you accept that as the solution up front, you miss out on an always enjoyable occasion of mocking the French.

Box marches on in that vein for several more paragraphs.

When a silver i-MiEV arrived recently at the Daily Planet -- and that "MiEV" bit is an acronym for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle -- all I could do for the first 10 minutes or so was just stand and stare at the thing.

Pug-nosed with skinny tires pushed to its far corners, the i seemed tall, narrow and clumsy -- kind of a jumble of Euro-Asian styling elements.

Technically speaking, it ain't pretty.

The hood was a short, flat panel that abutted a huge, sloping windshield. The headlamps were shaped like large blisters.

The top curved slightly, plunging sharply at the rear into a flat hatchback. Tiny 175/60 tires on blocky 15-inch wheels looked as if they had been snatched from a wheelbarrow.

Box goes on to offer some legitimate critiques of its power, steering, and length of the charging cord, but it's clear that his main beef is with the car's looks. And he's right: The car looks stupid, like it's trying a little too hard to look sleek and efficient.

Then again, you'd think it might get a little more respect, considering that it might help save the planet. Or something like that.

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 The last time I clicked on a link for an electric midget I had Homeland Security flying around in black helicopters and I had to run the full scan to debug the hard drive.


 Maybe you should consider making your own. I have an electric MG Midget that gets over 100 mile range. It cost $15,000, not 30,000. You can check it out at my website  http://www.electricmgmidget.com


More like a fart in a windstorm.  A fart in an elevator has a pretty big impact. Sorry if I sound pedantic, but proper fart joke imagery is nothing to sniff at.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

 And if greenhouse gasses were really awful pollutants, then that might make some difference.  But on anyone's list, they're less harmful than the other crap that comes out of carbon combustion.  Not at all saying they're not worth thinking about, but thinking that EVs offer any large benefit is mistaken.


 And then you have to hire a guy to walk in front of you with a red flag by day and a red lantern by night ... and that "gasoline" smells worse than a lathered horse after a hard run ...

Ed D.
Ed D.

Post of the week.


Back in April, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report that compares the carbon footprints of electrically powered cars with gasoline models. It compared the miles-per-gallon equivalent of the amount of greenhouse gases generated in charging the battery of an electric Nissan Leaf. In DFW, charging a Nissan Leaf generates an amount of greenhouse gases equal to driving a ICE that gets 46 miles per gallon. The worst you get is in Colorado where that number drops down to a 33 mpg equivalent. The best is out in the Bay area where the number jumps to a 79 mpg equivalent. Find the NYT article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/automobiles/how-green-are-electric-cars-depends-on-where-you-plug-in.html Find the Map here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/04/13/automobiles/Sorting-Out-the-Power-Grid.html

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