A real smorgasbord of things to ramble about/catch up on.
I’m a pretty unabashed fan of battery electric vehicles.
Well, I am slightly abashed in the fact that I feel like it’d be much better if mass transit were more accessible in more places, and even the most efficient BEV still has some pretty severe ecological issues associated with them (lithium refinement, impact of manufacturing the vehicle itself, parking space, road space, externalities of power production, etc.), but as a form of harm reduction in the society that we are stuck in within the vast majority of the continental US, they’re still way better than internal combustion engine cars, for those whose lifestyles require a car and can accommodate the (vanishing) limitations of a BEV. Even in areas where most electricity is generated by fossil fuels, the environmental impact of charging a BEV (with emissions generated in a centralized location) is much lower than the impact of carrying a little inefficient fossil fuel combustion source everywhere you go.
So, BEVs are an improvement. The thing is, the state of BEVs is pretty abysmal in general, at least in North America. In other parts of the world there’s some pretty compelling vehicles available (such as the MG4) but the US auto market is currently emphasizing large “crossover SUVs” and pickup trucks, and combined with the fascination of maximizing the car’s range, most BEVs coming out here are forced into a situation of having a gigantic battery, raising the overall vehicle price, and therefore meaning that every electric vehicle ends up being some ultra high-end luxury car.
Update (1/16/2023): Added some stuff about the Hyundai/Kia duality that I’d missed previously. Also a change of opinion on the EV6.
Update (3/31/2023): Chevrolet is making a very bad decision
When my Leaf arrived, the front camera wasn’t working, meaning the self-driving functionality was nonfunctional. Today I took it to the nearest Nissan dealership to get it looked at, and fortunately it was just that the camera had gotten disconnected somehow. 5 hours and $280 later (most of which will be reimbursed by Carvana) I have a car with level 2 self driving.
And holy moly, level 2 self-driving is weird, in a good way. It can’t handle all driving even in its limited situation (nor should it) but it does an amazing job of maintaining speed and safe following distance and position within the lane. And it always errs on the side of caution; if it doesn’t have a clear view of the lane markers, it turns off (and lets you know!), and goes into lane-keep alert mode instead.
There’s a bunch of road on the way home which has had construction going on for as long as I’ve lived here, and the lanes are all weird. When driving there, the lane-keep alert made sure I was aware I was drifting between lanes, but used a perfect level of tactile notification, which made perfect sense. And when lane keeping became available again, it was so surreal (but cool) to feel the steering wheel automatically turn for me.
It’s a really cool experience, and I feel like it’s implemented in a safe way that’s not likely to have the Tesla problem of just like, you know, randomly swerving into trucks/medians/oncoming traffic.
It handles all of the parts of driving that make me anxious.
Also having the full wraparound camera makes parking much easier.
So anyway. Yeah. I like it.
Today I had to run an errand in Burien, so I got to try the Leaf in somewhat-more-chaotic driving conditions than what I did during my test drive yesterday.