Editor’s Note: This week, Peter reminds us that EV Nirvana is not only not happening, but a lot needs to be accomplished before we get there. In On The Table, we preview Porsche’s third-generation Panamera. And our AE Song of the Week is “Superman” (It’s Not Easy) by Five for Fighting. In Fumes, Peter continues his story about Jim Hall’s Chaparral Cars racing team. And finally, in The Line, we have Formula 1 results from the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and MotoGP results from the Valencia Grand Prix. Enjoy! -WG
By Peter M. DeLorenzo 
Detroit. Today’s headline is actually a memorable quote from a Hollywood screenwriter named William Goldman, and I find it to be an oddly fitting description for today’s automobile industry.  
Remember 18 month ago when we were inundated with promises, predictions and flat-out guarantees about the upcoming “Grand Transition” to the EV Age? Auto companies were doubling down on projected EV model plans, planned manufacturing sites and vague notions of charging infrastructures, left and right. It was going to be grand, it was going to be magical, and as if to emphasize what our driving future would look like, the locally-based manufacturers – as well as Rivian and Lucid – started rolling out “show pony” cars, trucks and SUVs for $100,000+ to create interest and desire. Oh, it was a very special time indeed. 
Except, a funny thing happened on the way to EV Nirvana. 
The collective manufacturers overshot the runway. Fundamental assumptions were made about the depth and breadth of interest by car-buying consumers in the whole EV “thing.” And those assumptions proved to be wrong. Yeah, sure, the first-on-the-block types who wanted to make a statement for their respective neighborhoods to see procured their “show pony” EVs, but the rest of ConsumerLand shrugged with a very skeptical attitude filled with very perceptive questions. As in, “What’s in it for me?” And, “Why is charging outside of the home such a frickin’ nightmare?” Or, “EVs seem all well and good, but why do they cost so damn much?” 
To that and other questions the industry responded with classics such as, “New technology brings new challenges, and patience is needed.” (This was in response to the fact that talking about EVs and actually building them were two vastly different things.) Or, “By 2030, we’ll be 100-percent electric.” (Which conveniently ignored the fact that by all measurements, this was not only not probable, but borderline impossible.) And then, there’s always the time-honored industry go-to phrase, which we love to remind the industry “players” of every chance we get – “It won’t be long now!” 
The auto industry, instead of reveling in the “Grand Transition,” now finds itself falling back, recalculating, reducing investments, and generally just putting the whole thing on one giant pause – which I find to be, believe it or not, a very good thing. It gives the industry time to get serious about two crucial aspects of this EV “thing” 1. The infrastructure requirements. The industry – except for Tesla – collectively dropped the ball on addressing the infrastructure needs of the “Grand Transition.” Just hoping things would work out and catch up with the onslaught of new EV model offerings was a major miscalculation. We, as a nation, aren’t there yet. In fact, we’re not even close, even factoring in Tesla’s charging network. I’m figuring the infrastructure needs for the “Grand Transition” are easily six to ten years from being even remotely adequate. Think about that for a moment.  
And 2. Battery recycling. Right now, some very serious industry players are feverishly working overtime to make battery recycling realistically viable and efficient. This is not an insignificant thing, either. If and when the “Grand Transition” is fully engaged, battery recycling will be just as important as a reliable charging infrastructure. 
And one more thing about EV batteries. The battery technology we’re living with today will be “yester-tech” and obsolete in no time – that’s a testament to how fast the development of battery technology is going. As I’ve said before, in the grand scheme of things, we’re just on the cusp of initial battery development, from here on out the pace of new battery technology will be accelerating exponentially. Batteries will be smaller, lighter, use less rare earth metals, be radically more efficient and eminently recyclable. That’s a lot, but that’s what it will take to get this EV show on the road for mass consumption. 
I think this industry needs to take a collective breath and make good use of this “pause.” The industry got too far over its skis and made some assumptions that were just borderline ridiculous. Will the “Grand Transition” eventually happen? To a degree, yes, but it will still be just one of the ways that this nation’s fleet is powered. And the manufacturers who were hedging their bets while busy improving their ICE vehicles behind the scenes will be the most successful over the next decade. 
As for me, the “Grand Transition” to EVs will be “real” when I can pull off the Interstate on the way to Elkhart Lake and recharge my mainstream EV in the same time it takes for me to fill up my ICE vehicle now. I’m figuring 2035. 
In the meantime, nobody knows anything. 
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week. 

Editor’s Note: Click on “Next 1 Entries” at the bottom of this page to see previous issues. – WG

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