Yes, I’m a ‘petrolhead.’ But even I can see the value of switching from internal combustion to electric propulsion for the everyday commute.
There’s clear merit in driving a car in the city that produces not only zero emissions, but also no noise and no heat. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that power is absolutely instant – as is the case with EVs – and, of course, they’re incredibly smooth and refined. I had this revelation over a weekend spent recently with the Audi e-tron.
It doesn’t hurt that it also looks like a million bucks – even with its conventional wing mirrors, as opposed to the far cooler virtual wing mirrors in the test car that I first drove in late 2018. A couple of years ago, the e-tron was pretty ground-breaking. Now, it’s one of the many EVs that you can buy in India at various price points.
But that’s where the trouble begins because it costs WAY more than a million bucks! With a price tag of one crore ex-showroom, it’s a full zero more and then some… And there are some other issues too – the battery pack weighs 700 kilos and accounts for a huge portion of the total cost. Plus, there’s also the bigger question of whether or not EVs are really the answer. After all, the raw material supply chain for EVs is not only heavily dependent on China but also, because of lithium and rare earths, not entirely sustainable – not to mention the actual power generation by burning coal. So, the question remains about whether EVs are really the answer, or is hydrogen the true long-term solution?
Finally, EVs from conventional automakers like Audi are just that – more conventional when compared with the likes of Tesla, especially now with the Yoke steering wheel that looks like a joystick for a video game. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t work as well as a traditional steering wheel, the fact is that it makes a statement and that’s what buyers seem to care about in this space. This anti-establishment stance is what has endeared Tesla to the early adopters.
But, when it comes to sheer levels of engineering, capability, civility, and refinement, you just can’t beat the likes of this e-tron… but you will need a hip pocket that can fit all of those seven zeros.
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