Electric cars. Do you love them or loathe them? I point out 5 reasons why I’m dubious about the future of motoring and what it means for modified cars. 

As a fan of modified cars and tuning in general, I must admit, I have a love-hate relationship with the ever-growing presence of electric cars. While I do appreciate the innovation behind the technology involved and understand the intention behind the switch away from fossil fuels, I can’t help but feel a tinge of resentment towards EVs and even hybrids.

Of course, as with any controversial topic, extremists are at either end of the scale. On one side you’ve got the idiots that glue themselves to roads at weekends (completely oblivious to the irony of the extra pollution the resulting tailbacks and diversions cause, I might add). And at the other end, you’ve got blinkered conspiracy theorists who think it’s still 1970 and that climate change doesn’t exist.

Now, I don’t fit into either of those camps.  I’m well aware of the environmental benefits of electric cars and the need to embrace sustainable technology, but I do wonder at what cost. And I’m not talking about the obvious financial costs (by the time you’ve excluded the chaff, the cheapest electric car you might actually consider owning is the MINI Cooper E, and that starts at £30,000!), I’m more concerned about what it means for the modified car culture that is our passion.

5 reasons to Hate Electric Cars

The pros and cons of EVs have been debated numerous times before and by people who are much more respected in the automotive industry than me – I’m just a bloke who likes to take what OEMs give us and think I can make it better by bolting on go-faster bits! So, let’s assume for a second, that electric cars don’t catch fire every time you park them up. Let’s pretend you could get where you wanted to go without having to make sixteen diversions to find a charge point that actually worked. And, let’s even ignore the environmentally-friendly debate surrounding developing countries being torn apart and exploited for the precious metals required to make a modern EV battery.

Even if we overlooked all those, I can still give you five very good reasons why car fans like me will always hate electric cars…

The Silent Scream

Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that a performance car should roar with power and make its presence known. One of the most bizarre experiences with electric cars is the spine-chilling silence. Even now, every time I see (not hear, obviously!) an EV pulling out of a car park, that eerie silence and sci-fi hum makes me feel all funny. Second to sight, hearing is the second most powerful sense human beings have. When I can see a car moving but not hear it, it just doesn’t sit right.

And when we look at it from a modifying perspective, it gets even worse. Let me ask, what was the first upgrade you made to your car? 95% of the time the answer will be induction kit or exhaust upgrades? Why, because the enhanced noise and more aggressive soundtrack makes our cars feel faster and more exciting to drive, even if they don’t increase power that much. What are we gonna do with EVs, download a V8 soundtrack to play through the massively-oversized entertainment system to mimic a proper car? No thanks.

Unplugged Tesla Cybertruck

Desensitized Driving

This point is more of an extension to the first, as it’s not just your sound senses that a numbed by electric cars, but all of your senses. When you fire up a modified or performance car the roar of the exhaust is accompanied by a rumble and subtle vibrations that resonate throughout the entire car. As you blip the throttle, your body picks up the changing pitch of these vibrations through your backside. You feel like you are connected to the car.

And then there’s the smell. I don’t know about you but I love the smell of a tuned petrol engine. From years messing around with old Fords I can tell if a car’s got an old Cossie YB under the bonnet just by the smell. And don’t tell me you can’t smell the difference between a standard and a remapped car.

Not with an EV. All of those sensations are wiped out, replaced only by a monotonous whir of an electric motor and cacophony of different bings and bongs coming from the dash. That hardly stirs the senses in the same way, does it?

Modified Tesla Model X

Where’s the Fun Gone?

The other day I was talking to a guy who had numerous awesome cars at his disposal. We’re hoping to bring you full features on some of the cars in his collection very soon, but they included everything from a modern Mustang with a supercharged V8, a crazy drag-spec Maloo pick-up truck, a Ranger Raptor, a mint Volvo 850, and a restored E-type Jag. Do you know which one he said he was most looking forward to driving? A Citroen 2CV he was restoring! Do you know why? It was just fun to drive. That’s it, fun.

And that hits the nail on the head. You see, there are two types of drivers in this world: those who see it simply as a convenient means of getting from place to place, and those who see each drive as an adventure.

Electric cars are great for the former but from my experience, EVs have this uncanny ability to zap away all the joy and excitement of driving. It’s a cliché to refer to electric cars as white goods, but that’s kinda what they are. They feel characterless to drive, even if they are faster and safer. The thrill of driving isn’t about how fast you’re going, it’s about how it makes you feel.

electric Dodge Charger interior

The Soulless Sync

One of the most disheartening aspects of electric cars is their lack of personality. Sure, they may have all the fancy gadgets and (massive!) touchscreen interfaces, but where’s the soul? I miss the quirks and imperfections that give cars character. As car enthusiasts, we bond with our cars and form relationships. Admittedly, usually, love-hate relationships where we can’t get enough one minute and then threaten to set fire to bloody thing when it goes wrong again. But we form an emotional connection. It ascends from being a metal box with wheels to becoming part of the family.

On the other hand, electric cars feel like cold, calculating machines developed in the sterilized confines of a lab. Electric cars are like the T-1000 of the car world, whereas a good old-fashioned petrol car is your outdated, motorcycle-riding, shade-wearing, shotgun-slinging T-800 model.

Give me a car with a little personality, with some rough edges and a story to tell. I want to feel a connection with my car, not just be another passenger in an efficient, soulless pod.

The End of Car Culture?

When you think of car culture, what comes to mind? The sound of an engine. The smell of fuel. The bond between driver and machine. Electric cars rob us of that connection. More than that, every one of them looks the same. Sure, you can change the colour and make a few cosmetic tweaks, but adding a few stickers doesn’t really count as tuning in my book.

What will car shows and meets of the future look like? A bunch of non-descript Teslas sat around binging at each other? That’s not for me.

2000hp Ford Pro Electric SuperVan

The Future is What We Make It

Except it doesn’t have to be that way. Electric cars are here to stay, whether we like it or not. And of course, much of what I’ve just said is equally true for boring entry-level petrol cars compared to their performance-orientated brethren. I wasn’t comparing apples with apples, but hopefully it highlights my concerns that our passion for modifying, customising, and above all else, just enjoying our cars is being washed away in the name of reducing carbon emissions.

And the really good news is that every one of the concerns I listed can be rectified and improved with modifications and tuning. It’s already started. Here at Fast Car we’ve seen several modified EVs on the show circuit, and every week a press release lands in our inbox to let us know about an new performance upgrade that’s just being launched. Everything from coilovers to big brake kits, and I personally can’t wait to see what’s possible when tuners start recalibrating electric motors!

Mini Electric Pacesetter

Celebrate, Don’t Criticise Modded EVs

I’m not ready to make the leap into an EV myself just yet. Call me old fashioned, out of touch, or plain stubborn (or a mix of all three!), but I’m more than happy plodding around in a modded Ford Ranger pick-up. But I tell you what I won’t do, and that’s question anyone I see who has modified their electric car. The next time I see one at a show or a meet I’ll be the first to applaud the owner. Without these pioneers creating the demand for upgrades and custom parts, there will be no future for modified cars, at all. As modifiers, we’re already under the cosh from OEMs, DVSA, and insurance underwriters because we don’t conform and fit neatly into their predetermined boxes. Don’t let them stamp us out. Keep modifying, even if that has to be with electric cars in the future.