If The Electric Cars Sound And Look Good, I'll Get One

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2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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I was just reading about the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf and began thinking about getting an electric vehicle (EV) one day in the distant future--or not so distant future, depending on my tolerance for increasing debt levels.

With absolutely no proof, a lack of caffeine and having had very little sleep as of late, I have come to the conclusion that the first iterations of pure electric cars that are available to normal consumers (none of these short-term leases) will pique the curiosity of many early adopters, but they will be bland, bland, and bland to drive. No fun, as Iggy Pop once sang. Why?

Testing the waters
Although car companies know that design is still THE differentiator when it comes to getting customers really passionate about a car, in the EV space I feel car companies think it's what's under the hood that counts and the clean image--a big, fat mistake, in my opinion.

To make these cars desirable, it can't just be about efficiency and zero tailpipe emissions above all else. Too techy. Too dry. Too one-faceted. These cars must have a unique and expressive look, something that stands out. Frankly, in the very new arena of mostly and fully electric vehicles, apart from the gorgeous and swoopy Fisker Karma and the eventual release of the Tesla S sedan, none of the planned EVs or partial EVs really makes you say wow.

I am not counting the Renault Zoe and Fluence z.e. cars and Citroen Revolte concepts. They are interesting to look at to say the least. They will be watered down for production, but they are not run-of-the-mill. They make you want to get in and drive around and be seen. Not so much the Volt or the Leaf. Both are kind of dull to look at, with nothing that makes you want to rush out and get one. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is interesting but too small to be taken seriously.

No music to my ears?
And as a car enthusiast, I also feel there will be much room for improvement in another area, and I am not talking features, range or design. I am talking about sound, like the sound of an engine. One thing any car guy (or girl) loves is to hear the sound of an engine as it rises through is operating range, be it pistons or rotaries, turbocharged, diesels or anything else. Sound is so integral to the automotive experience that it cannot be left out or watered down or forgotten. How will engineers deal with this? How will they make me want to drive it for fun and not just be good to Mother Earth? That is the biggest piece of the equation for me.

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