Test driving the past

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A clean-sheet design isn’t the sort of luxury that many people enjoy – the development of technology is more often about slow incremental improvements than anything else. Take a look at the car, for example. When you really consider what we’ve got, it’s a fundamentally flawed but highly refined package that traces a line directly back to the horse and cart. Indeed, the word car is a derivative of carriage. If the car was invented now, what would it look like? Maybe it wouldn’t even be allowed, for safety reasons, a series of controlled explosions propelling those on board at terrifying speeds through narrow streets. Certainly you wouldn’t want the mechanical elements to be left at the mercy of a driver’s sympathy, being careful with the power to avoid any unfortunate accidents, manually swapping between gear ratios and the like.

The Tesla Club of Sweden have certainly given food for thought this week with the car review posted on their website that we spotted and enjoyed at ETi. The satire might have gone over some people’s heads, but they’ve taken an internal-combustion-engined car out for a spin for the first time and recorded some of their thoughts: “Having heard so much good about petrol cars, we decided to test drive one. They are said to combine cheap price with long range and fast charging. A winning formula on paper – but how are they in real life?”

The violence and noisiness of the driving experience has them perplexed, used as they are to a smooth electric experience. The whole piece is a challenge to much received wisdom on cars: “We asked if the constant sound of the engine could be turned off, but it couldn’t.” It’s not just the driving experience, but the ownership experience begins to look ridiculous too when viewed from another angle. The Tesla Club drivers are confused as they try to recharge their petrol tester. “How much does it cost to fill up at home, and how many free stations are there?” they ask.

The danger, as EVs and alternatively fuelled cars become more of a viable option for mainstream buyers, is that the current anachronisms of the IC-engined car remain cemented in place, when in reality we’re faced with the greatest opportunity in over 100 years to reimagine the basics of the horseless carriage.

Click here to have a read of the Tesla Club’s blog post and see what you think.

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