Power Tends To Corrupt, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
That's a quote from John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, an advocate for V8s and a huge fan of Turbos (not at all true, he was a historian, politician and writer), but he does have a point.
I want to start this article by saying that I don't have a problem with electric cars, I really do like them. As a mode of transport they are brilliant, but they just aren't exciting for me, nor for many of enthusiasts.
So why exactly is that? I can already hear you screaming "engine noise" at the screen, but there is more to it than that. Lets start with the EV's favorite thing, acceleration.
We've all seen the videos, Teslas shooting off and hitting 60mph in ridiculously short amounts of time. Taycans launching through showroom windows, off driveways, the list goes on. Its all very impressive, but dare I say, boring? Sure you can out accelerate a supercar, but that don't impress me much (Shania Twain, I am deeply sorry). BMW's latest iX M60 promises, ahem - "vehement power delivery", what does that even mean? What it means is that its just another point and squirt vehicle that can embarrass a 10 year old Ferrari at the lights. Not to say that launching an electric car isn't fun, its hilarious the first time and the second, maybe even the third. But once you've done it a few times you'll feel a bit sick and be left asking what next? Well that's where it all falls apart, past that there isn't really a lot. No one has ever gotten up early on a Sunday morning to go and do a few hours of launches at their favorite traffic lights while the roads are quiet, have they? If they have, I dare say they probably need to stop as they have clearly dislodged something in their brain. Driving enjoyment is more than just acceleration, its the experience.
I can still hear you shouting "no engine noise bro" so lets come onto that point, I have an idea. A subtle whir or some spaceship sound effects will never be able to compete with a Mezger at full chat, we know this already. But why cant we have something synthetic? Imagine an EV with a library of engine noises, you want to hear the induction noise of a S54, or a small block V8 burble, just pick it from the list! Yes its naff when compared with the real deal, but wouldn't you rather have the option? Renault did something similar in the last Clio RS, and it wasn't that great, but it was a fun quirk. Lets bring some character back into the car, if a videogame can do it, why cant your car? Just imagine rolling through the city center silently, but with the thrum of a Busso on the inside. Quiet bit of road? Ah yes I'll take the Group B Quattro noise please. Driving to the Goodwood Revival? Do you have a Spitfire? Just because we don't have an engine, doesn't mean we have to forget what they sounded like.
Whilst we're on the subject of configurability, what about the actual drive modes? Most EVs have the typical drive modes, Eco, Comfort and Sport. All they seem to offer are varying degrees of pedal sensitivity and steering weight, maybe some stiffer damping if you're lucky, how dull eh? With an electric powertrain we have the possibility of an infinitely tunable driveline. You want 100 rear wheel drive for huge drifts? Sure! 4WD for when its snowy? Yep. Tarmac Rally mode where the car mimics a Mitsubishi Evo's AYC system? Hell Yeah! Rivian are doing something very similar in their R1 line of trucks, but lets see this in a sports car, now we're talking. If you insist EV's have to have all that power, lets have the ability to have some fun with it!
The problem is that EVs are too focused on instant acceleration and gobs of power, and with nothing else to call on they are a one dimensional experience. Point at the horizon, squirt the throttle and peel your eyeballs off the headrest, yawn. So manufacturers, I ask you this, please stop focusing on the EV party piece of acceleration and actually develop something interesting, break the mould! With the likes of Lotus, Porsche and even Caterham starting to eye up the electric sports car market, we are hopefully going to see some real innovation, but for now us enthusiasts are left clutching a petrol can and reciting the firing order of a Diablo. (1-7-4-10-2-8-6-12-3-9-5-11 if you're interested.)