A few days after driving Audi’s new e-tron GT, ‘conflicted’ is the only word I can find that comes close to portraying how I feel.
I feel like it’s almost a betrayal of sorts to even acknowledge the possibility of an electric future, let alone admit to myself that it’s almost a certainty at this point.
The promise of a hydrogen-based revolution is still no closer than it has been promised for years, and the reality of e-fuels isn’t quite as rosy as we might be led to believe. Bosch’s claims that renewable synthetic fuels will be available for €1.20 per litre (approximately US$5.40 per gallon) by 2030 is also widely disputed.
Some reasonable assumptions predict that the same quantity of e-fuel could be closer to €4 per litre, or almost US$18 per gallon. Apparently, it’s really expensive and not that efficient to create e-fuels from renewable sources.
The potential net result of this is that running a traditional internal combustion engined vehicle will become prohibitively expensive, and that’s before governments around the world introduce punitive taxes and other disincentives to encourage us away from our fossil fuel burners.
I don’t for a second believe that quote which states ‘the best thing to happen to horse enthusiasts was the arrival of the car’ will be relevant this time around. The last time I checked, horses were primarily the domain of the wealthy.
What is most infuriating from an enthusiast’s perspective, is that even if every single performance and classic car was removed from the roads overnight, it likely wouldn’t even make the smallest of impacts on the planet’s current climate crisis. Yet, we’re likely to be the ones that lose the most during this transition to an electric future.
Or will we?
It’s the Tuesday morning just after Easter weekend. Despite the promise of snow and wintry showers, it’s pleasantly bright and dry, but there’s a sharpness to the cold in the air. I’m making the relatively short journey to an undisclosed location where I’ve been offered the opportunity to drive the all-electric Audi e-tron GT. Short enough that Habu doesn’t even reach full oil temperature. Unusually, I haven’t been asked to photograph the vehicle for press purposes on this occasion (that will happen in time), but rather to take a no obligation drive in the car for a few hours.
There was a quick walk around the ‘hero’ car in the makeshift venue, before I was handed the keys to a Kemora Gray Metallic example waiting for me.
The Audi e-tron GT is a large car – certainly by European standards – at almost five metres long (16.4ft) and just under two metres (6.4ft) wide. I’ve grown used to driving battery electric vehicles over the last few years in my life outside of Speedhunters, but it’s a surprise when I hit the start button, engage Drive and the car emits a purposeful, but synthetic, ‘hum’.
Inside, it’s an Audi. That is, it’s solid, well designed and intuitive. While this is the more placid e-tron GT model, as opposed to the more raucous and sporty RS version, the driving position and controls are still well placed with plenty of adjustment.
It doesn’t take long to find a comfortable posture, customise the Individual Drive Select mode to my preferred settings (everything to Dynamic, but with the dampers set to Comfort) and take off in the direction of my own pre-determined route. So far, so good.
The e-tron GT is, as the name suggests, a GT car as opposed to an outright sports car. Still, there’s a certain amount of dynamism to the car’s DNA. It’s the first BEV I’ve driven which has consideration for an emotive driving experience. In traffic, it’s quiet, comfortable and easy to manoeuvre.
Moving away from suburbia and onto quieter and more technical roads, the e-tron GT continues to remain unfazed, as it should do. Despite its size, it doesn’t feel as big from behind the wheel and you quickly and quite easily learn to position the car accurately on the road.
These are roads which I know very well, which is the primary reason for choosing this route. With limited time available before the car had to be back in Audi’s hands to be cleaned, sanitised and handed off to the next journalist, I didn’t want to waste a precious moment. Stopping regularly to take photographs eats up enough time as it is.
There were a couple of things I purposely didn’t want to know before I took to the road; primarily the power and weight figures. I like to try and feel my way around any car without preconceptions of whether it’s fast or not on paper. Naturally, BEVs are heavy cars due to the battery weight. The sole benefit is that this weight can be placed accurately throughout the car, which is typically as low as possible.
Thirty minutes into my drive and I’m still feeling my way into the car. Across the less-than-perfect surface it still feels good; surprisingly so. The road isn’t rough so to speak, but is nuanced. Even on a relatively straight section, parts of the road rise and fall at different points beneath the car.
Through some corners you can hook a front wheel into a dip to help the car around the corner. On others the dip is replaced with a sudden rise which has the potential to send you wide of target after the apex.
The e-tron GT copes with these variances impeccably. Steering is precise, although dulled slightly with regards to feel, something I would expect for any GT car where the comfort versus performance balance must be considered.
The car always remains compliant, while providing enough information from the road to keep you involved. You don’t feel disconnected from the experience.
The Audi is equipped with a two-speed transmission, similar to the one found in the Porsche Taycan. The gears are not manually selectable, but you can adjust the level of energy recuperation off throttle with the paddles on the steering wheel, which offers a new form of driver engagement.
When the opportunity arrives for a full throttle application, I take it. The response and delivery from low speed is nothing short of astounding.
With a traditional high-power ICE car, there will always be those brief moments between gear shifts where you can catch your breath. Those opportunities don’t exist here, and you only then realise how much you appreciate those few milliseconds of respite.
True, a BEV typically doesn’t match a performance ICE at the top end, but there’s an argument to be made that the instant delivery of power and torque from low down provides a far more exciting real world driving experience.
Imagine my surprise afterwards when I learn that the e-tron GT weighs 2.2-tonnes (4,850lbs) and only has 469hp, with 523hp available with a temporary boost. That’s only around 213hp per tonne (237hp per tonne with boost), but the experience behind the wheel completely belies these figures.
Truthfully, if the Audi representative had told me the car had a three-figure power output number which started with a six or seven, I would have believed them. In this case, it’s all about the power delivery and the car’s ability to distribute it to the road via its fully variable quattro AWD system.
Just a reminder that this isn’t the range-topping RS model, either.
Without the sound and vibration of a combustion engine’s rotating assembly, does it fail to deliver an emotive driving experience? Yes, and no.
The sound of turbocharged V8 or a naturally aspirated V10, as is the norm in Audi Sport models, is special, but I don’t feel like the e-tron GT is missing anything at all. It’s just a different experience. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.
The absence of the orchestra of a piston engine is akin to removing one of your five senses, but only serves to heighten the remaining four. There is more to a driving experience than just the powertrain, and this car is a fascinating taste of what we can expect in the future.
With my cameras packed safely away, I enjoyed the last half hour or so of the drive in relative silence, contemplating the many questions which an electric future pose. Will we actually lose out? Personally, I don’t think so.
As things currently stand, I’m all for the mass electrification of the vast majority of vehicles on the road. Most commuter cars with ordinary petrol and diesels will not be missed, and are far better suited to being electric in any case. They’ve always been appliances, so they might as well be quiet and zero emission as well.
I still think there will always be a place for special petrol cars, whether these are new models or classics. I don’t see them vanishing or being banned outright in our lifetime. I think as the automotive industry as a whole transitions towards electrification, the target will ultimately be taken off our backs as well.
There’s still the question of where the electricity will be generated from, but the ultimate goal of cleaning up the mess we’ve made as a species puts the onus on us to figure it out, and the easiest way to do this is by choosing renewable energy sources where possible.
As enthusiasts, I believe the time for burying our heads in the sand and pretending that electrification isn’t happening is over. If we want to ensure that we have a future as car enthusiasts, we need to play our part in influencing the cars that come next, however we choose to do that.
It doesn’t have to be armageddon if we don’t want it to be.
on what planet is this ugly? And if this is, subjectively, not your cup of tea, what is?
Electric for daily boring drives to and from work, petrol for weekend fun. In an ideal world!
Where Does An Electric Future Leave Us, As In This Site? Well, Since This Since There Seems To Be More Hunting For Stance Than Speed Here, So You'Re Save.
Where Does An Electric Future Leave Us, As In People? Electric Future Should Not Be The Fear, There Is A Lot Of Tourque In Electric Motors, Build Gears And Create A Higher Top Speed. The Autonomous Driving Is The "Scary" Part Of The Future...
It's just another environmental disaster in the making ... To scrap the billions of ICE cars, and the dead batteries. Good thing is I'm close to my expiry date so I probably won't get to see it.
Always love your work Paddy, and this one is no different. I hope the future is kind to us car enthusiasts
The internal-combustion engine isn't dying - it's being murdered, because it provides cheap, reliable, efficient, real-world usability to the common people of the world.
There's no reason that, if left alone by the governments of the world, the fuel-powered car couldn't live alongside the warp engine.
I have no problem with electric vehicles - as long as they're actually superior to fuel cars and don't come into general use via government coercion and the legislative strangulation of the fuel car.
You need to ask who profits the most from an "electric future." Here's a clue: they manufacture practically all of the world's electronics now, and have injected plenty of RMB into both governments and EV startups.
China. Plain and simple. There's a reason they bought themselves into every African government (on the East coast for now), for whenever their own resources run out.
It's going to leave us in the West feeling like we saved the world. And while we're patting ourselves on our backs congratulating each other, its going to turn the developing world where the majority of resources for these things are, into the new Middle East. I'm looking forward to the resource wars to fuel this "electric future" and as I drive my Tesla past the mile-long line of Congolese refugees I'll smile and thank them for "doing their part."
Hydrogen is actually growing pretty quickly in America and I really don't see petrol going away any time soon. I'm all for more forms of transportation and will own an electric vehicle at some point. I just don't think there is any reason to fret that ice powered vehicles will go the way of the horse (in America at least).
To believe every existing petrol car is to be replaced with an electric one in the current guise, without generic batteries that can be substituted, is folly, especially when considering it currently takes the equivalent of driving a diesel car 200,000km to mine enough (rare earth) lithium, to make batteries for a single electric car.
Not least, there isn't the electrical infrastructure to support such a notion, nor is there the intention, or the financial wherewithal to turn all of the major 1st world cities, into smart ones, with charging stations lining every street. There isn't currently any recycling of Li car batteries, in operation, either.
No. What they're trying to con us into without realising it, is that the government intends very few of us will own petrol cars by 2030.
If they have their way with the WEF's "Great Reset & Green Revolution", in the space of 10 years, we will take rides in electric cars we'll summon via an App, driven by AI. It'll then become illegal for us to drive, as cars will communicate with one another via the 5G network. They'll miss each other by mere centimeters, and governments will do their best to persuade us drivers that we will have become dangers unto ourselves.
Personally, expecting many people to reject such nannying ideas, I foresee that interesting petrol-powered cars of the '90's, will continue to invoke nostalgia and desire and thereby grow further in demand and value, as enthusiasts including myself will stick two fingers up at authority.
I think Toyota (& Honda) are concentrating on more sensible, inclusive alternatives: Hybrid cars.
So far Toyota (who began producing the first Prius in 1997) still haven't produced a single electric production car.
Nissan isn't doing so great, globally, selling their Leaf, compared to Prius hybrid sales, globally.
For enthusiasts, Honda makes the Hybrid NSX and Toyota makes several hybrid GT cars. Having invested heavily in Gazoo Racing, Toyota know the real passion is reserved for petrol cars. They didn't miss the opportunity to surprise the markets with the Yaris GR, and they're not introducing any electric prototype GR models, either.
Look at electric car (& bike) racing. Any significant interest? Not so far...
I'll be sticking to enjoying the sound & smell of petrol engines, for as long as possible and wouldn't want to encourage electric. Bearing in mind their current carbon footprint, I'd find it misleading to tell others it's the future they want... No, instead - I'm telling people, enjoy life.
Get a 2-stroke low capacity high-reving go-cart as the cheapest way to enjoy motorsports. F*ck the electric brigade.
Lol so much tin foil in the comments and some of the article's inane statements. We'll return to post HERE in 10 years, and there will still be (more) varied enthusiast content, the environment will be better, exploding economies in India/Africa/South America will be buying up all our obsolete ICE, and governments will continue to break as currency and values are all over the place. Eventually we'll have to behead politicians and spew ignorance and get fat on media's anger-pedalling because it's the profitable/sheeple thing, meanwhile those of us that enjoy life are out driving whatever has wheels, free from giving a crap what powers it. Get out and drive, stop whining, fill your head with something useful... Then maybe, you'll be able to afford that car you really want, EV, hybrid, ICE, vintage, new, horse-drawn, or otherwise.
I think the future is something excited especially if we're getting electric cars like the E-Tron
However it still doesn't replace the internal combustion engine in the heart especially the soulful feeling and I hope that there is a way where we can have both electric cars and ICE cars in the future
EV will become cool with the petrolheads when manufactures start making proper sportscars and coupes. The base Taycan RWD is proper fun, just envision how good an electric 911 Carrera and GT3 will be? Honda should make the Honda Sports EV Concept, Mazda should drop an EV drivetrain into the RX-vision concept and make an electric MX-5. Rywire and Bisimoto are already showing the future of sportscars. Maybe it will become a future like in MF Ghost?
An electric Miata just would not work.
The Miata is supposed to be light weight. An electric version would be very heavy.
Keep in mind the Tesla roadster's battery pack ALONE weighs as much as an NA Miata for 600 miles range.
As much as I hate to admit, Porsche and Audi have the most beautiful EVs right now, and had I had the money, I would've bought either a Taycan or a e-tron GT tomorrow. Tesla is the most advanced, but their design exterior and interior pales in comparison to the Taycan and the e-tron GT or the Sportback IMO, and they do some fishy stuff as well.
This part also made me laugh out loud, and it's so true "Most commuter cars with ordinary petrol and diesels will not be missed, and are far better suited to being electric in any case. They’ve always been appliances, so they might as well be quiet and zero emission as well.".
I'd personally buy the e-petrol, even if it will be sold by the barrel, to drive my S14, or more cars that I'll buy and keep in the near future. It's gonna be expensive sure, and I wouldn't be daily those cars on it, but it would still be worth it to buy. I read about Porsche testing the fuel next season in their GT 911s, so am curious how it will develop afterwards.
Porsche debuted the new gt3 earlier this year running on their new fuel
Last time I read about it, they wanted to test it from next season. Might've been then season 21-22.
Cheers for that!
I don't see gas powered vehicles disappearing like a lot of people are so afraid of happening. Classic cars didn't disappear with vehicle emission programs, the prices just went up and people with money fixed them, turning them into investments.
I'm excited for electric cars. If the only tradeoff to all of the positives is a different (and slightly quieter) sound, I'm happy with that. I once saw a video where someone explained it in the form of Daigo's classic jump-drift video: In that video, what creates the excitement? It's not the 2JZ's noise (its barely audible), but it's Daigo's driving and the announcer's reactions.
When everyone starts changing their worn batteries I'll want to see how really clean will be "our" electric future..
As with ships, earthmoving machinery and trains that are electric any battery is not needed, rather bring the power generation onboard. ICE running at max torque for producing electricity lasts longer than a battery pack, weighs less, takes less space and is proven.
I definitely prefer ICE over electric power train even though their acceleration numbers are incredible (pikes peak performance as well) .The implementation of aftermarket hyrbrid E power adder options, whether it be at the flywheel or the wheels is a really cool option too . That being said, we really do need these guys testing the limits of electric motors, cooling and hot lapping capabilities if they are our future, so the electric car tuners totally get my support.
Talking about the 'orchestra of the piston engine' underneath a picture of the interior showing OMD - Enola Gay playing was a nice little tie up Paddy :).
I don’t get it. I don’t get how the transfer to EV will reduce carbon production that much. Why is the focus on changing such a disposable product? And transferring our use of one finite resource to another seems a weird choice. Concentrate on greening our building stock and we’ll have real benefit.
People don’t like change, but over time they acclimatise. I’m sure it won’t take that long for people to be happy driving things like EVs. But there’ll be a place for classics for a longer time I’m sure. Petrol will have to be widely available for at least another 20 years, which is a long time to resolve what’s happening. Personally I think the electrification of classics will be huge business - with the miles they do they won’t need batteries replaced often and the carbon production in the manufacture of the majority of the car is in the passed - that’s a real saving.
Petrol-head with a garage full of classic gas and diesel vehicles, as well as too many 2 stroke marine outboards, but I have also worked on advancing EV policy for about 15 years. I'm also a systems biologist by training, and happen to think the planet is pretty important. Change is coming, but is maneageable. It is much easier to clean our electricity sector than any other, so thus it makes sense to electrify everything. After all, electricity powers most things in the greatest of our science fiction stories, and that's because it's smart. Buildings in most places continue to be the biggest carbon emitter, so yes improving efficiency and source energy is critical there, but transportation is second.
Yes, I think it will be like horses, and in 50 years only the wealthy will be able to afford fuel and/or a place to shift transmissionis for themselves, but I don't think classics will ever be made totally illegal. Honestly, I would love if I could easily and cheaply electrify some of my vintage stuff, if for no other reason than to not have to tinker to keep them running properly and to just enjoy actually using them.
How about a carbon capture club, 120 odctane brew with a negitive 1% footprint It can be dyed Green with a minty scent , no need for emissions passport? So I have two turbo builds and the scetches for my first electric build, Fwd Eg6 twin motor. On the steering wheel, left and right torque/power triggggerrrrs, My hope is to make it a transformer EV To Turbo, and why not an Na. Swapable front sub frames one piece front. Why didnt Audi ask for input before they got this far along mass is mass however well its placed seems like there was a different way to go. Oh well maybe next time.
the south of the US will be the last place to give up petrol, so I'll be moving there when the UK inevitably folds to greenie tree hugger scum
As a native southerner, I wouldn't make the rush to move here. For all our progress, the south is still stuck in like, the 1980s, for better or for worse. I wish this weren't the case, it's a real shame the wasted talent coming out of neglected schools, the illness of too many people, the social backwardness and general inequity across all strata. Ha, but we'll have gasoline for our side-by-sides and lifted F250s on swamper bias plies!
10 cameras, 2 microphones, location, browser history, phone access, battery made from materials found in communist countries, remote control steering - monopoly power source (local electric company) 3rd party access to miles traveled for tax purposes first, allowance to follow - Electric cars leave us at the door step to global communism, even better when starlink is the only internet option, now all you need is a global fiat curreny (bitcoin) that can be manipulated with computers the public doesn't have access to or understand (Dwave10.X) book decider (amazon) and a system where votes don't matter (dominion) run by a global unelected government accountable to no one (UN) and there puppet military (NATO) and puppet health organization (WHO) ITs ok though Neuralink is a way to get better, transhuman and totally not a blatant attempt at widescale reprograming, now head off to get your vaccine papers and wait for other people to tell you what to do while you fantasize about video games and idiot music.
I don't think there's much an issue with enthusiasts that want to customise the vehicle they drive (moving forward into EV's) as much as trouble engaging ICE generation crowds for motorsports of various kinds due to the deafening silence.
That has to be around Loch Té? I was actually married there! Can be quite windy up there.
I can't state anything about the "us" part, but for me its hybrid. FWD cars with rear electric drive. It fairly easy to design and build, but the battery pack weight still is a problem....
Great fan of Speedhunter and already afraid by a future where my childhood car dreams are rusting I still find one funny point about this article :
> Synthetic fuel will be to expensive > ok > lets drive an electric car that cost the price of a flat^^
I'm an not against electric sportcars, I'm against electric sportcars as they are right now. Let's face it, they have some big issues, and the worst of them challenge the definition of "sportcar" itself. First of all a sportcar can't be fast just from red light to red light, I don't want to spend ( even if I could) 70000$ on a car that can't do 3 laps in a row because the batteries gets so hot the car has to be slowed down at a rate it doesn't even make sense to remain on track. A sport car can't weight as a truck because even if you center the masses the weight is still crippling the fun of driving, and first of all they have to be built with enthusiasts in mind, this electric cars are just fast gt, made for people that doesn't care about cars at all. When all this pursuit for the lowest 0 to 60 fad over ev will be over, and someone will truly try to build a fun sportcar that happens to have an ev powerplant I'll be sold.
This opened a can of worms didn't it?
One of my biggest worries with the switchover is how many of us who work in the motor trade will end up losing our jobs. The vast majority of our sales are to independent garages for mechanical parts and most of that is service and engine repair items. With no servicing as such required I think it will be likely that 50% of UK garages will end up closing as the work won't be there and they won't have the money to invest in the technology for repairing the EV power plants and the training will be too cost prohibitive too meaning that work will need to be done by main dealers or very few specialists.
Newer vehicles are already becoming too cost prohibitive to repair after an accident too due to parts prices and everything been electrically controlled, radar sensors, LED headlamps with 3 or 4 control units each and a set of lights is 4 to 5k plus vat before you know it.
A lot of us will struggle.
Onto the enthusiasts battle with this.
Daily drivers, many of us choose to drive a cheap daily to mean that we can fund our toys. There are currently no cheap EV cars but the cheapest 4 seater hatch on the UK market seems to be around 8K so not exactly cheap, especially if you take into consideration degrading batteries and the replacement cost. A 15000 Mile VW E-UP is currently around £10000 roughly half the initial cost. a replacement battery is £9200+VAT so a damaged or faulty battery writes off the value of the car before it hits 20000 miles.
Would I have electric power in my fun car? you know what, yes! quite likely. As long as the car is still fun then I see potential in it. My issue is with lack of range. If I can't do the 250 ish miles from my house to the Lake district and back the interesting way without queueing up to find a charge point in a remote town in a tourist trap then it is currently no good to me.
Can we take EV's on track days? My parents recently went to an open day at the Highways Agency where they were told that if an EV breaks down on the road the fire brigade have to come and check that the battery pack is stable before recovering the car (imagine that at rush hour on the motorway!) would having the relative safety teams on hand at a track day make it cost prohibitive?
Would quieter cars everywhere make "enthusiast" ICE vehicles stand out even more and annoy people even more than they do now? I am regularly seeing compaints from local residents about noisy cars on the dual carriageway to the motorway that they bought their house backing onto.
With so many of the new EV's accelerating so quickly is ICE tuning going to be pretty futile? Some of the new EV's accelerate at the speed of a world rallycross car out of the factory.
We are also forgetting how much more monitored things are becoming regarding driving and it may become hard to enjoy a quick car on the road anyway.
Great write up!
Why do EV's have to be so ugly though? I get that they want to change ICE's for EV's (not that the impact is going to be of any use, since we are passed the point of no return) but they could at least desgin something interesting before this all blows into pieces..