Anti-EV Vitriol Is Alive and Well

By · May 13, 2013

Honda Fit EV

2013 Honda Fit EV

Car and Driver’s drive review of the Honda Fit EV in its May 2013 issue is pretty much what you would expect from an auto buff rag: a brutal takedown on electric vehicles. But to dismiss the review as a bad review of a single electric car—or as standard fare from gearheads who revel in the rev of a gas-powered engine—would be to miss an opportunity to better understand persistent resistance to EVs.

C&D writer Ron Sessions provides a summary statement in the final paragraph of the review. “For a price that’s more than double the cost of a conventional Fit Sport, you get a car with less than one-quarter the cruising range, a third less cargo space with the rear seats up, a nine-percent-longer stopping distance, mushier steering, and marginally less grip,” he write. “The payoffs, of course, are fossil-free motoring and planet-saving bragging rights.”

Honda Fit EV Owner

Matt Walton, of Ventura County, Calif., takes delivery of the first 2013 Honda Fit EV.

The main message: This electric car is way too expensive, doesn’t provide enough range, and is a lousy ride. Only smug treehuggers would touch it with a 10-foot pool.

No big surprises here. ICE-lovers don’t like EVs, and this reviewer thinks the Honda Fit EV sucks. Fair enough.

But it’s the comments on the online version of the article that are instructive—revealing the level of vitriol aimed at electric cars. I know the web is all about anonymous flaming, but visitors to sites like PluginCars.com might forget how prevalent EV animus is, outside of our electric car bubble. Looking past the one or two defensive comments (and the completely empty name-calling), see below for a representative sample of the 50-plus comments fro Car & Driver readers.

Real-World Attitudes

Sample comments with minimal editing for clarity:

“You may not be spewing fumes outside a tailpipe but you are adding to the energy consumed by power plants. Don't even start with the ridiculous solar panel chargers, since it would literally take you a week to get a full charge from the solar panels on tops of an average family home. God help you if you are in an apartment.”

“The price difference between this [Honda Fit EV] and the gas Fit allows me to drive 180,000 miles on the gas-powered Fit. Which is about 22.5 years in my book. This will probably need a new battery pack in 3-5 years. Pretty stupid if you ask me.”

“Someone needs to explain to these stupid Liberals in government that: #1 Electric vehicles cost far more to build, maintain and own than the equivalent I.C.E. powered car. #2 You aren't 'saving the environment' or reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.”

“If I had that kind of money, I'd drive around in a Lamborghini or Veyron. Even now, when people hear my engine and ask how many miles do I get per gallon, I proudly say '10.1.'”

“This is the state of the EV art, people. That's why I've been calling fail on EVs from day one. Like driving a gas car that's perpetually on 'E,' that you refill through a soda straw, with 700 lbs. of extra dead weight, for twice the price. A car only the California Air Resources Board could love.”

“The whole thing is about smoke, mirrors, and confusing people into accepting a political movement.”

“Leo DiCaprio will drive one to show how 'green' he is and others will follow.”

Comments

· · 1 year ago

Brad,

Thank you for writing this article! I do appreciate that you actually did some investigation, consolidating others' comments and providing a picture of the world in which OEMs are trying to market and sell EVs. Of course, neither commenting here nor on the original article is going to make a difference to any of those commenters. Hearts aren't changed in blogs, but in person.

Oh, and by the way, the Fit EV is also available in NY. In fact, there is one that has found its way up to Syracuse, and is tooling around CNY (Central NY).

· · 1 year ago

I guess the author either didn't read the Car & Driver review or somehow doesn't consider the Tesla S an EV. And lets not forget Motor Trend's car of the year, the same Tesla S. The problem is none of the other EV's given their specs would sell a single car if they weren't an EV. Until the major manufacturers can build an EV that can stand on it's own merits like the Tesla S this will only be a niche market with mostly tree huggers as customers. If a start up like Tesla can manage to make an EV that's a first rate car, EV or not, why can the big guys do the same? Maybe they aren't committed.
As far as the vitriol from the public... there was an interesting study done where the same light bulb was sold in 2 different packages. One said it was Eco friendly the other made no mention of Eco. Some consumers of a certain political persuasion would refuse to buy the bulb in the Eco packaging but would buy the plain label version . So even if the Fit EV had a 500 mile range and sold for the same money as the ICE version you'd still likely have a significant segment spouting vitriol anyway.

· · 1 year ago

ignorance is the biggest problem against EVs.

However, current crop of EVs aren't helping breaking up the myth. Only the Tesla S has done it. It is the ONLY EV that has beaten its comparable priced ICE cars with better performance and sufficient range.

Leaf has done NOTHING beside reinenforce all the EV sterotype.

We need a cheaper version of the Tesla S to break the ICE stronghold...

· · 1 year ago

@ModernMarvelFan,

That's a little harsh against the Leaf. The Leaf has done a lot to break many of the old stereotypes (e.g. an EV is a golf cart, not a "real" car), while seemingly creating some new ones (EVs cannot go more than 80 miles / charge).

The Leaf is an affordable, fun to drive, pure EV and I commend Nissan for bringing it to market, and remaining committed to its future. For those of us for whom a Leaf works well, it is the right product for today. For others, the Volt is the right product. Both cars, along with the Model S, are doing A LOT to progress the acceptance of EVs.

· · 1 year ago

The IQ of a population is a bell curve. There will always be below average people who don't understand basic physics. This is not news.

· · 1 year ago

Ron Sessions’ GM big block Chevy curriculum vitae does not predispose him to appreciation of small cars like the Fit EV. Other than his hyperbolic summary, the article is generally correct, if not flattering. And no point in spoiling reader fun piling on with their own version of fact. The point, after all, is entertainment. The benefit of hearing all this is it’s easier to fain boredom when confronted by the attitude in public.

A neighbor of mine drag races a nice 69 Chevelle in Super Stock class competition. The Fit EV had always gotten a cool reception from him. One Tuesday when the neighborhood was evacuating vehicles for the street sweeper, I asked if wanted a ride back in the FEV from the park where he’d left the trailer’d Chevelle behind his diesel Dually. When he hesitated, I said "c’mon, it’s a fast golf cart”. He has since driven it a couple times and seemed surprised by it’s performance, if not impressed.

I don’t feel the need to defend the Fit EV as It takes care of itself. But I think my neighbor is waiting for the Spark EV. 400FtLb of torque you know. Said so in CAR and DRIVER…

· · 1 year ago

@Brian,

"That's a little harsh against the Leaf. The Leaf has done a lot to break many of the old stereotypes (e.g. an EV is a golf cart, not a "real" car), while seemingly creating some new ones (EVs cannot go more than 80 miles / charge)."

Ok. You are right. I guess I am a bit harsh. That is NOT unique to Leaf. It works the same for the i-Miev or even Volt in some respect.

The sterotype of "being a golf" is just stupid. But the typical myth with EV is that they are "ugly", "slow", "limited range". "no space", "doesn't work well in extreme weather", "expensive compare to similar size/performance ICE".

Well, just about every BEV on the market today fits those description, except for Tesla S. Tesla S might be expensive, but it is at least comparable to simiar performance ICE.

Leaf, being the most popular BEV on the market today (flag ship type product) has NOT done enough to break the stereotype. Its look is questionable. Its performance is worse than typical V-6 family sedan or higher powered econ box. Its range is still less than 100 miles. Its cost is still expensive without Incentives comparing to a similar sized/performance ICE cars. Its winter range and high speed range is still limited or shrink significantly. Hot weather still impact its battery longivity (or accelerated aging).

With all that said, it doesn't mean that Leaf won't work for most of the commuters. In fact, most family can own something like the Leaf for their daily use just fine. But the point is that Leaf is NOT breaking those myth like Tesla S has done.

I can't wait for a cheaper version of the Tesla S that will turn the $30k market upside down...

· · 1 year ago

There's a time, place and a car for everything. I've owned a bunch of cars, some fast and some not so fast. I like cars and I consider myself a "car guy". I make my living selling parts and accessories to other car guys (women included). I drive a Leaf and it's not because its fast or slow or cheap or cool. I drive it because it makes perfect sense for the countless small runs to the store or to pick up groceries or my kids, etc. There are just so many miles you drive where you aint going anywhere fast so why worry? Just get the most efficient, sensible, clean thing you can use to put down the meaningless miles you drive every day and leave the screaming hood chicken adorned cars and it's descendants for the testosterone soaked masses. We're all gonna die and you aren't likely to be remembered by how fast your car's 0-60 second time was.

· · 1 year ago

@Brad Berman

I'd say the Model S's problems have been swept under the rug in general by most of the automotive press. So I don't see how these articles can be generalized as being hateful of EV's... Some I find actually much too complementary.

· · 1 year ago

When I think back on the time devoted to ICE maintenance, the predominance of it to the ICE itself, trying to save a few dollars, poisoning the world, enabling so many supportive businesses, and a life style that can only myopically justify its own existence through misplaced devotions and emotions, I can only speculate on the opportunities squandered, the peaceful, life enhancing persuits left by the way.
Yet, I see the Leaf more as a seed than a leaf; it's bulbous rear, it's cabin that shrouds pasengers with limited visability instead of embracing connection to the the world it traverses. As a seinior going to seed myself, perhaps it is competition for me, but I cannot justify the range limitation against my old Geo getting near fifty MPG, and allowing better visibility and adult sized doors. My own frame is 6'4", and I haul no groups or kids around. No EV's aimed at my purchase *(that are sold in the mid USA), tho I have the scratch. Too many PIEVs are aimed at family transport; the same families that are having a challenge making ends meet with available money to spend being "green". I'm still waiting for that "two door, long range, good visability, few gimmicks, PIEV auto that makes justifiable use of my large PV array.
One Toyota dealer told me it would cost thousands to upgrade his service capabilities to even sell the Rav-4, another dealer simply added that cost onto the price. Neither had any Plug In Priuses for sale.
I trust my comment may widen the field of comercial offerings. I'm waiting. The Volvo C30-e, VW e-UP or Micro e-Bus, the Fiat 500-e, a few more; "not sold in the mid USA", not yet, anyway.

· · 1 year ago

My $.02: Most of the vitriol being spewn out there comes from people who actually believe the professional liars on Faux News. The EV does have its limitations, it's not meant to be the exact same thing as an ICE(yet). However, few if any of the haters out there have even been inside an EV let alone driven one. The biggest obstacles are what we have known all along, among them cost vs range. The Truth is that none of that actually matters to those anti EV fanatics. Not talking about a natural reticence to a new technology...no one can be blamed for that. But to simply bash a technology because at some point the government has tried to support it is simply wrong. Best thing is for EV drivers to calmly and honestly speak about their cars, the pros and cons. Savings in fuel costs cannot be underestimated, money talks. Forget costs of buying, many of us lease, and at fantastic rates. EVs can be great deals. Lou

· · 1 year ago

"I can't wait for a cheaper version of the Tesla S that will turn the $30k market upside down..."

It won't. You get what you pay for. By the time Tesla comes out with their econobox, two things will have happened. #1 is that Nissan and Ford and Chevrolet and BMW will have already beat them there. #2 is that they'll be doing it cheaper. By the time Tesla gets into this space, they'll have to end up either cutting corners like mad and producing a product that is as bad or worse than everything else *currently* on the market, or they'll have to produce something that doesn't suck but costs significantly more, which has always been their market strategy.

In other words, at $35K (don't kid yourself, they will probably never go lower than that, and they might not even go that low) they'll be producing a better car than the Leaf is today, but competing with a Leaf that is cheaper. At the same time, electrics will be on the same price point of at least hybrids, and possibly a few gas-only grocery-getters.

· · 1 year ago

Im sure that my next car that I need to buy in approx. 10 years from now will be another boring small 4 cylinders gasoline car, LOL. These new ' electric car' are a big fail, LOL.

In ten years 98% of cars buyers will still buy gasoline cars. These badly engineered electric cars are purposedly made to be bad because car manufacturers employees receive money from big oil under the table to protect the status quo and also goverments corrupted from big oil pay these expences.

It's easy to make with current technologies a green car that cost less then actual gasoline car and without any problems.

An electric fuelcell car made with magnesium, aluminium, high-strength steel, plastics,
have a big range, cost less and do not pollute. Car manufacturers could have released this car more then ten years ago but instead bug the market will impossible solution like the Nissan leaf or the tesla, etc, with silly public rechargers, etc, etc.

· · 1 year ago

The Car & Driver article reader comment only show the level of outright stupidity, ignorance and selfishness that's still out there. I'm especially amazed to still hear about the "long tailpipe" argument and a declaration that solar doesn't work.

There are any number of studies (the 2011 Union of Concerned Scientists one is a good place to start) that shows - even in places that still rely mostly on the burning of coal for electricity - that an EV is about as clean as an ICE. Of course, it's cleaner everywhere else, which would be most of the US.

As for solar, most of these C&D respondents probably wouldn't know a photovoltaic panel if someone walked up and hit them over their heads with one (which probably wouldn't be a bad idea.) I know plenty of people who live in very comfortable houses - from small and modest to downright luxurious - all who pay $17.00 monthly electric bills . . . heat, cooling, running all their appliances AND keeping their EV fully charged. It's not a myth. The only legitimate problem I saw addressed there is the lack of charging infrastructure for apartment dwellers.

· · 1 year ago

If you are going to write an article about the stupid anti-EV comments, at least take the time to debunk all those stupid comments just for the record.

· · 1 year ago

They've been debunked countless times, no need to rehash...

· · 1 year ago

@Gorr

What you say would be much more convincing if you would provide pricing information for the fuel cell program you propose... To date, what you propose seems to me to be very pricey, and I've spent beaucoup bucks on EV's. Maybe you're an Idea guy and I'm a Detail guy. But details prove in the end whether the Idea is good.

Electric cars use much less electricity than the amount of electricity saved by high-efficiency airconditioners, high efficiency refrigerators and CFL light bulbs now in pretty general use..

So in a sense, if a family uses CFL's and high efficiency air conditioners and refrigerators, they can basically drive pollution free, and free literally since the money they would otherwise save goes to charging the car.

In my own case, my electric bills are relatively small, with most of my usage being the EV's.

· · 21 weeks ago

Cet auteur sur la réplique argentée réservoir de replique montre Cartier semblait être évolué dans les relations de langue italienne connectés avec des horlogers. Il avait été around1967 chaque fois qu'ils entendaient son chèque primaire sur.

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