If every car in the future is electric, the only thing enthusiasts will be able to do then is reminisce about the good old days, laments our senior writer.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
If every car in the future is electric, the only thing enthusiasts will be able to do then is reminisce about the good old days, laments our senior writer.
<b>PHOTO</b> 123RF.COM
<b>PHOTO</b> 123RF.COM

BEFORE you declare me a Luddite, let me state that I am not against technology or progress. 

I like my full-HD TV, and will probably upgrade to a 4K model in a few years. I love how my new laptop, which has an SSD and 16GB of RAM, loads everything almost instantaneously. 

I also use an electric toothbrush because it’s way more effective at preventing cavities than a manual one. 

However, there are certain things that I prefer doing the old-fashioned way, even if they are considered by many to be more “troublesome”. 

For instance, after I rediscovered how nice it is to write with a fountain pen, I promptly bought three. Because you don’t apply any pressure to the paper, the experience isn’t just smoother – it’s pain-free, too. 

When it comes to shaving, I’ve ditched chemical-filled shaving gels and horrendously overpriced multi-blade cartridges in favour of natural shaving soaps/creams and double-edge (DE) razor blades. The latter combination delivers smoother, closer and irritation-free shaves. 

But while we’ll always have a choice when it comes to shaving and writing instruments, I’m afraid that we’ll only have electrically powered automobiles to choose from in the future. 

Driven by our dwindling and irreplaceable oil reserves, the relentless march towards eco-friendliness will inevitably lead to this conclusion: The days of the internal combustion engine are numbered. 

I realise the need for cleaner engines and alternative fuels. But as a car lover, what I cannot accept is the fact that all electric motors have the same power delivery characteristics. 

Even engineers I’ve spoken to acknowledge that currently (no pun intended), there’s no way to make one electric motor feel different from another. 

Electric motors deliver immediate thrust accompanied by a whirring, turbine-like sound. Release the accelerator and the “engine brake” (regenerative braking) will slow down and stop the car. The only difference between electric cars is determined by how powerful the motor is. The soundtrack doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter if the car is a Tesla Roadster, Nissan Leaf or BMW i3. 

So, when internal combustion engines only exist in museums, what will differentiate one car brand from another? Some say that it will boil down to a vehicle’s design. Others have mentioned that it will be the overall experience that a brand delivers. 

Dreadfully, we have to accept the fact that an electric future will also mean autonomous cars. When software and artificial intelligence are finally smart enough to deliver zero accidents/fatalities, governments may pass laws that forbid people to drive. 

I suppose I can always review a vehicle’s driving software as a passenger, then. 

But car nuts will never let go of the fact that the engine is the heart of a car and plays a major part in determining its appeal and character. 

Think about how different a 3-cylinder motor is compared to a 4- or 5-cylinder unit. Think about how different a V6 is from an inline-6 or flat-6. Recall how a V10 sounds compared to a V12. 

And lest I forget, think about what different manufacturers have done to the beloved V8. 

Some marques make them scream. Others make them growl and rumble. Whatever sporty sound a V8 makes, it is music to a petrolhead’s ears. 

But when all cars on the road are electric, the only noises we will hear are the soft rumbling of tyres and the chirping of birds. And in all likelihood, we will hear these sounds as passengers in driverless pods. 

Yes, our air will probably be cleaner and our surroundings, even greener. But for enthusiasts who perpetually yearn to hear roaring engines and rorty exhaust notes, I’m afraid that our automotive future will be a stale electric nightmare.