In the early 2010s, there was much debate and disagreement over what the future of the automotive industry would look like. Brands like Tesla, and cars like the Nissan Leaf, were just getting off the ground. Enthusiasts, journalists, and industry insiders alike failed to agree on whether or not they’d really take off.
As we begin the second decade of the 21st century, that debate and disagreement has largely waned. Just about everyone knows, and accepts as truth, that electric cars are the future, and that gas and diesel powered vehicles are on borrowed time.
Understandably, car enthusiasts whose hobbies, passions—and in many cases, lives—revolve around these fuel-burning machines, are disheartened. It’s hard to know that their hobbies, much like internal combustion engines, won’t be around forever.
If talk with the average car enthusiast about this subject, it becomes apparent that most are genuinely saddened by this prospective future. However, as an ardent car enthusiast myself, I’m excited to report that I think much of this panic over the death of the ICE is overblown. And I’m happy to explain why the hobby of burning fuel to get from one place to another will live on for a long time to come.
Why are car enthusiasts upset about the rise of electric cars?
To explain why I think car enthusiasts have nothing to worry about, let’s look at why they do think they have something to worry about. To put it plainly, enthusiast-oriented electric cars are not nearly as fun as their enthusiast-oriented ICE counterparts.
Automakers and their engineers can throw everything they have at an electric car, and no matter how cool it looks or how fast it is, it will never pull on the heart strings quite like an ICE car can. The sounds, mechanical rumblings, and motorsport theater of enthusiast cars are what make them so special. Those are the things that make them worth spending time, money and energy on. When they’re absent from the cars of the future, they’ll become less exciting and less interesting to car enthusiasts.
It’s important to note that I’m not even totally against electric cars. In fact, I don’t see any reason why traditional, appliance-like commuter cars shouldn’t be switched to electric. People who don’t care about the things mentioned above are probably better served by electric cars. It’s the transition of enthusiast cars from gas to electric that gets people understandably upset. When the Corvette goes electric, for example, it will be a sad, sad day.
Why car enthusiasts have nothing to worry about
Now that we know why many car enthusiasts are concerned, here’s why I think they shouldn’t be. To start, the cars we have now, and the gas-powered cars we’ve lusted after since our childhoods, are not going anywhere. There are governments who have announced “bans” on the sale of gas-powered vehicles, with many set to take effect in 2035..
However, an important stipulation is that those proposed bans prohibit the sale of new gas-powered vehicles, not gas-powered vehicles in general. So barring any new plans to ban the sale of all gas powered vehicles, you’ll always be able to buy and sell used gas-powered cars. Sure, it will be disappointing when, in the future, we can’t walk into a dealership and buy a brand new gas-powered car. But compared to the breadth of things that make car enthusiasts tick, that’s a relatively small concession.
Additionally, we’re still far away from the day of no new gas-powered car production. To be fair, I don’t know when that will be—no one really does. However, we likely have at least a decade before automakers really start phasing out ICE’s, even in their performance cars that are known for having the best of them.
To use the example from above, we’ve still got a while before the Corvette goes fully electric. This means that we still have years of new gas-powered cars to look forward to. Granted, many automakers have announced plans to slow or halt development of new engines, but not all of them, and there are still new gas engines being developed that have yet to be released.
By the time the car world does go completely electric (which I truly believe to be decades away), all of the gas-powered cars that we know and love today will still exist. There will always be Carrera GTs, MKIV Supras, E46 M3s, and Corvette ZR-1’s to buy, regardless of whether their modern successors burn gas or not.
Finally, as I mentioned above, there aren’t currently any plans to ban all gas-powered cars from being bought and sold. And realistically, I don’t think there ever will be. It would be a logistical and environmental nightmare to dispose of all gas-powered cars. So, to car enthusiasts everywhere: don’t worry. The switch to electric is coming, but it’s not the apocalypse that some make it out to be. We’ll always have our hobby, no matter what the rest of the industry looks like.