The Soft Switch
There are a few people who care about much about their shampoo. You go to the store, pick something you like the smell of at a decent price. It’s a general product that serves a purpose that we don’t want to waste time considering. This is the case for most, but not all people. For this majority when their common brand of hair soap stops being available, they make a soft switch to another brand and don’t really give a shit. It works the same, no matter who makes it or what it’s made of. Their lives continue the same as it was before. Life is still the same; the soft switch.
Today I met a movie star. I had seen it in a movie, a film I hold high regards of. Although a secondary character, meeting it in the wild makes it become real. A beautiful by-product, California emissions run a muck. If you haven’t seen the Documentary ‘Who Killed the Electric Car’ yet, I suggest you do so. I’ve recommended it a few times on the blog now, and will continue doing so. It documents a fascinating environmental and political clash challenging the American automotive climate in the late 90s. Watch it here: Movie!
I consistently am reminded, and reminding others that we are far behind where we should be. Decades repressed technology. I harp constantly about it.
I had an expectation. This was my second ride ever in a fully electric vehicle. It looks like a regular Rav4, and a majority of it’s structure is the same. The owner put the key in the ignition, the tumbler still reads ‘Lock, Accessories, On, Start.” When he turned the key into the On position, the shift selector moved down into drive. A small clunk from the drivetrain greeted us from below, he pre-warned me. I had an expectation of this electric car, and this first ride met those exactly, but I still felt surprised.
As we cruised down the road my surprise was pleasant. Normal, there was no difference. I had driven gasoline Rav4′s many times before, heck I’ve even driven a Chinese Chery copy (worst new car I’ve ever driven!). My surprise with the EV version was it felt exactly the same as the gasoline version. It drove along the road the same, the acceleration, braking and cornering felt identical. for a 12 year old car, it sure was quieter than any of the brand new cars I’ve been in recently. Our journey took us around town, and no one noticed us intermingling with traffic. We were just a regular car.
Heated seats, air conditioning, CD player, power mirrors, normal stuff. Standard equipment on all cars of the era. It’s just a regular car, nothing more. The soft switch.
There is an uneasy mood offered by most electric vehicles offered today, the drastic few that there are. The environmentalist angle has become distasteful and ruined. It was the car companies unenthusiastic, forced attempts that kept them focused solely on meeting the requirements of the mandate rather than the exploitation of environmentalism. Truly the best approach to the electric car is the soft switch. Changing to a new brand of shampoo is no big deal, who cares. If it’s an electric car in the driveway, that looks the same, works the same, and is much cheaper to operate than a gasoline Rav4.
The soft switch is so easy. Your life doesn’t change, it just continues the same way as it did before. Generally people want things to remain the same, without much affect on their daily routines. Having to take consideration of their shampoo brand, materials and contents is something for that of a hair washing enthusiast. Something for that of an environmentalist. Electric cars are often advertised as a major lifestyle change, a hard switch, where life is suddenly different. Mix the high price point into the equation and suddenly an EV car is a much bigger, more complicated decision than it needs to be, and for many in the late 90′s driving an EV was just a small little adjustment in their every day. Most of these electric vehicles were built on existing platforms that looked near identical to customers cars already. They didn’t give a shit if their current vehicles were gasoline or not when they bought them, just that these vehicles kept up comfortably with everyone else’s performance and budgets.
As much as the Environmentalist aimed EV’s are a threat to non-environmentalist lifestyles, the soft-switch EV’s are to the automobile manufacturers. Gasoline is a big industry in it’s self, but maintenance is quite a large one too. This dabble in all electric vehicles wised up the manufacturers to the lack of replacement parts needed to keep these vehicles on the road. This particular example requiring around $2000 over 12 years to keep running. Brakes, tires, bulbs, shocks and washer fluid taking up a majority of the bill. Far too low a profit margin. Heck, the vehicle is still on the same batteries it came out of the factory. These batteries are actually no longer available for sale, as the patent was purchased by Chevron, and sales associated with the technology halted.
I am quite happy I got to touch one. It’s strange to step so close, and it to be so obvious, to an alternative timeline, an alternate reality. Usually we are quite unaware of the grand scale of our actions. The obscurity of the emotion to be touching a piece of the present that wasn’t to be. It could’ve been such an easy, soft switch.