Motor (Australia)

Andy Enright

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IN NOVEMBER OF 2018, I wrote a column for Wheels magazine stating that I’d already bought my last new car with an internal combustion engine. I made the case that a freeze on ICE developmen­t, combined with the declining cost per kWh of batteries and a ramp up in battery energy density meant that there was the very real risk that buying an ICE performanc­e car could be like leaving the shop with the last Betamax VCR.

That column never made the mag, largely because I was completely and hopelessly wrong. Three years later, we haven’t hit the energy density prediction­s that industry analysts cited, batteries still haven’t crossed that magic USD$100 per kWh threshold yet and the hugely influentia­l Chinese EV market share is still lagging behind what was foreseen.

While I probably should have learnt from my first temptation to put a prediction into print, I’m going to make one anyway. My next new car is going to be equipped with pistons. If you’d have told the 2018 version of me this, I’d have been bitterly disappoint­ed at my future Luddite self. I’d have probably tutted at my regressive attitude and shaken my head at my pathetical­ly concrete inability to adapt.

What I couldn’t have foreseen is one simple fact. There just isn’t an EV that meets my needs right now. And, given that EVs currently occupy a one per cent market share here in Australia, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb in saying that you might well be in the same position. While BMW’s i4 looks promising, the cheapest EV that I really want is $191k worth of Taycan 4S. Ouch. Yet I could reel off plenty of ICE cars for under $100k that I’d gladly reach into my own pocket for. Hybrids, too, come to that.

I’d like to see a c.$45k electric hot hatch or Toyota 86-style coupe that’s decently built and which delivers the goods for a keen driver. Unfortunat­ely, that car does not exist and, extrapolat­ing the trend line in vehicle developmen­t, it might not exist for quite some time. If parity in the cost of building EVs and ICE platforms is indeed approachin­g, then it doesn’t seem an unreasonab­le ask. But we’re not even close.

You could pay $60k for a Mini Electric that offers the range and pricing shortcomin­gs of EVs coupled with none of the accelerati­ve benefits. Not picking on Mini per se, that’s just a typical exemplar of the attainable end of the market. Depressing­ly, most branches of this decision tree seem to end up at the ubiquitous Tesla Model 3.

So while I really want to believe in EVs, there’s not a product out there that appeals to my particular set of circumstan­ces. That will change. The trouble is, I can’t see much in the EV pipeline that delivers a convincing value propositio­n for enthusiast­s on the near horizon. Were I to place bets, I’d back Hyundai, Kia or MG to be the first to answer that call. But until then, I guess I’ll catch you at the servo, eh?

I’D LIKE TO SEE A SIMPLE $45K ELECTRIC HOT HATCH OR COUPE THAT’S DECENTLY BUILT AND DELIVERS THE GOODS FOR A KEEN DRIVER. THAT CAR DOES NOT EXIST. NOT EVEN CLOSE

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