Last week, the new and very dumb electric vehicle startup Rivian announced their new vehicles called (presumably) SUV and Truck. They are respectively an electric SUV and an electric truck, and of course Rivian immediately starts off with the hilarious statistics: 400+ miles on one charge, incredible off-road capability, a "wading" depth of 3 feet, on and on and on. Each and every one of these "specifications" has an asterisk after it. Because every single number on the page is a projection, a wish list, a fantasy. Yet, for $1,000 very real dollars, you can preorder these vehicles, which may or may not ever exist and may or may not offer the performance advertised on this website that's so poorly coded they couldn't be dicked to put a single metadata tag in their HTML: A bit of website optimization so remedial, every single pre-built website creation platform on the internet has offered it for over a decade. Hey, at least these guys are promising full refunds upon request. I'm sure we'll see how that turns out before the 2020 production state date, no month given.
Now, the cost. A Rivian is predicted to cost at least $61,500...AFTER the $7,500 federal tax credit, which may or may not be around by the time these trucks may or may not actually start production, and Rivian will start with the most expensive trucks first, the ones that will cost probably double that $61,500 price tag - are you starting to see a problem here? These Rivian trucks and indeed pretty much every single EV are not for you. They aren't for me. They aren't for my wife. They aren't for Tristan, or Nick, or their partners, or our parents, or for fully 95% of the people any of us know. They aren't for any of us. Companies like Rivian and Tesla don't want to make EVs, that's just their angle. They don't give a shit about the environment or the future or The Children™. They care about money. And more than that, they care about making all of the money in one single transaction to the exclusion of all else, especially what the consumer needs or wants. This isn't unique to automotive manufacturers. This type of capitalism is endemic right now. It's the way most companies do business, and its a cancer, blah blah blah you've heard me talk about this before. But Rivian's announcement sealed it for me. I'm now sure that EVs are the equivalent of the Juicero: They're a scam for Silicon Valley-types who want to make a quick buck off investors and preorder donkeys. If the product fails? Who gives a shit. If the company goes under? What company, I got my buyout already. Just look at how Elon Musk comports himself in public. Right now he's doing some wild shit on Twitter, solid bet, and Elon has far too much money to be on social media at all. But the thing is doesn't and indeed couldn't give a fuck what happens to Tesla or EVs in general. It doesn't matter to him, because he got his money and his zealots already, and so he just does whatever he wants to do that second.
Yes, I can hear you out there, you BUT WHAT ABOUT-ists. Here's the But What About: If we look at the American automotive market, these are all of the EVs for sale nationwide right now: BMW i3, Chevy Bolt, Hyundai Ioniq EV, Nissan Leaf. That's it. 4 cars. You think you're finally gonna start the EV revolution with 3 subcompacts and a liftback? No you are not. Oh, by the way, the average price of these cars is $35,580 after the tax credit, with the Hyundai being the cheapest, and the corncob-sized i3 being the most expensive. For all the talk about EVs being the future, for all the dick-wagging and shit talking Elon Musk does every single day, there are only 4 EVs you can actually buy in all 50 states. Remember! You still can't buy Teslas in 28 states, and every other EV in production is only available in certain areas. Can you think of a solution for everyone isn't even available to the majority of people? Me neither.
Thus the Juicero comparison. Tesla, Rivian, Porsche, Audi, Fisker, and all the other manufacturers making EVs that cost $50,000+ are making the automotive equivalent of internet-connected juice machines, and the other EVs on the market don'e count because they either aren't available or they aren't practical. They're all expensive toys with little to no true function and decent marketing. Nobody asked for this. Nobody needs this. Because even if you can get an EV in your area, you probably can't charge it. Even if you can charge it, it doesn't go nearly as far as the company told you it would. Even if you're okay with low range, the inaccessibility of charging networks, and assuming you can get the car you want where you live, you've already made so many compromises that I believe its fair to say that what you're buying is not the same thing as what you've been sold, and that's without even addressing those foolish enough to preorder. Because EVs aren't for you. Even though they should be.
I believe that traditional internal combustion engines need to be phased out. I know global warming is real. As I'm writing this, it's December 10th and there is not one flake of snow on the ground in southeastern Wisconsin. It did not used to be like this, even in my short lifetime. But as much as I know that things need to change, I know that electric vehicles are not the future. They're an illusion, or in the best possible scenario, EVs are a stepping-stone that will move the world away from the ICE, and into some other technology that is viable. And I test this hypothesis by looking at the reality of EVs right now: If these manufacturers truly believed their own hype, if they honestly thought that EVs were so important to the future of the planet that human life as we know it would be entirely wiped out without them, is THIS how they would go about making this sea-change? In dribs and drabs? In limited markets? At prices nobody can afford? With impractical ranges and charging times? With all development focused on unreliable and blatantly dishonest tech startups? Without Toyota, the manufacturer who single-handedly mainstreamed electric hybrid tech twenty years ago? In body styles that nobody likes? With technology creep that makes Phillip K. Dick construct his own grave-rolling-over machine? With no realistic or foreseeable partnerships to ensure immediate charging station proliferation across the world? I'm supposed to believe this is the fucking endgame? No! Of course it isn't!
Its very simple: EVs need to be cheaper, they need to be better, and they need to be fun. In short, EVs need to be cars first, and electric second. Hyundai got it right when they priced the Ioniq EV at under $30,000. They got it right when they gave all of their EVs lifetime battery warranties. They got it right when they made their EV look and drive like a regular car. But that's just one single brand trying to set an example that I don't think caught on. If EVs are the real future, then we should all be able to go and buy one that fits our actual lives right now, for only slightly more than a gas-powered vehicle, with next-to-zero compromises on the ability of the vehicle. But we can't. Not a single person can buy that EV right now, because that EV doesn't exist. Most of us have 4 choices, and the sales numbers say nobody really wants any of them. Manufacturers see that EVs are just toys for the rich, and so they option them accordingly with self-driving hardware, all the newest accident avoidance tech, heated and cooled seats, and cruelty-free Georgian vegan cat leather and shit like that, which only inflates the already-high prices so that regular people can't buy them. It's about the money, not the future.
And so we're back at the beginning, with Rivian and Tesla and all the brands like them which are only playing at manufacturing cars while selling it all as some kind of miracle solution. It's snake oil with batteries. Rivian, no matter what they end up actually producing, will only ever produce toys for the extravagantly wealthy. The Rivian SUV and Truck will only ever exist on Top Gear, and in the pages of Automobile, and on the internet where they will do some kind of off-road mountaineering race against, like, a Humvee, a Ford Raptor, a Land Rover Discovery, and a pack donkey. They aren't real products, and they aren't real solutions. I've said on the podcast that I want my next car to be some kid of hybrid or electric car, and that's still true, but I'm not going to compromise what I want in a car in order to get it, and you shouldn't either. We should all wait until EVs are good to actually buy them, and that point still seems a very long way off. From now on, let's all agree: The companies have to meet us where we are, because we refuse to meet them at their current idiotic level. For me, the first company to make a hybrid or electric hot hatch that's fun to drive gets my money. Fight for it.