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Confessions Of A Hydrocarbon Addict

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Mad Hungarian, Sep 29, 2015.

  1. Mad Hungarian

    Mad Hungarian Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Messages:
    272
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Short version:
    I'm a lifelong, died-in-the-wool petrolhead who has finally found salvation through amperage. I count the days until the M3 is revealed and pre-orders start, and the wait to actually get one will surely be agonizing. In the meantime I plan to spend a lot of time here catching up on all your accumulated thoughts, wisdom and experiences, and bemoaning thefact I'm not yet a part of it.

    Long version (and I do meanLONG):
    I apologize in advance if this is not the appropriate spotto write a novella on who I am, why I'm now here and why everyoneelse should be too. If it's not then I kindly ask one of the moderators to move it to the right place.
    But this story for me isone that's a lifetime in the making and you all are the first audience that I think will be fully appreciate it, so I beg your indulgence.

    I'm a 51 yr old guy from Montreal that's worked in the automotive aftermarket for 30 years. Cars, motorcycles and aircraft have quite literally been the driving forcein my life since I was tall enough to look out the window and watch them go by.
    My first ride, a VW cabriolet pedal car, had to eventually be scrapped because I wore the centers out of all four plastic tires and they collapsed. When I was cranky and refused to nap my mother would put me in the back seat of our '68 Firebird, fire up the rumbling 326 H.O. V8 and apparently I'd grin like a little idiot before dozing off in seconds.
    Not much has changed since, except I'm now usually awake for the whole experience. My first real car was - appropriately enough - a real Beetle (injected '75 Super) which I wasted no time in modding and flogging, blowing up two engines in the process. I've had about 12 cars since, some faves being a 1st gen Scirocco, two Capris (the OG German ones), 16V GTI, Miata and then 5 different Audis culminating in my current A4 Quattro. Apart from modding and beating them all senseless on backroads and off-ramps at all opportunities my favorite use for them all has been TSD rallying. Quebec is blessed with lots of twisty, sparsely used rural roads and they are perfect for this sort of thing, especially when the snow flies. In summer I spend more time on my bike, a Honda CBR1100XX, which also sees some duty in endurance rallies here and throughout New England. I also got my private pilot's license about 25 years ago but have largely put that aside due to cost and focused on cheaper ground based activities.
    I grew up right at the dawn of the environmental movement in the 70's and so from an early age was made aware that most of the things I loved were not so good for the planet. However by the time I got my first car I became optimistic that technology was going to bring things under control. Although the 70's cars suffered terribly in performance and driveability from their crude emissions controls, the 80's brought big improvements with the advent of much more sophisticated fuelinjection and electronic engine management systems. There, problem solved, thought I. Except that back then it was all about getting rid of the poisonous carbon monoxide and particulate matter that was responsible for the visible "smog". Nobody was talking about CO2. Greenhouse gas was something you worried about if you'd overindulged at Taco Bell prior to tending your indoor tomato crops.
    But by the late 90's it was becoming apparent to me and a lot of other people that this CO2 thing was a thing. And what I was most passionate about was a big reason why. Still, the automakers worked furiously on making smaller, more powerful and efficient engines and I - along with the automotive press that I trusted to to give me the straight goods - still thought we could have our internal combustion cake and eat it too. If we could start getting the kind of performance out of 2.0L multi-valve turbocharged gas and diesel engines that we did from lazy 4.0L or5.0L engines just a few years earlier and convince everyone to choose vehicles that were appropriately sized for what they really needed, then mission accomplished!
    Almost all of you here of course know this was still dreaming. For me I'd say it became clear about 4 or 5 years ago that there was no longer any running or hiding. However it's pretty amazing how long you can hold out when you're hooked this bad. I thought "OK, what else can I do that will really have an effect?" The obvious answer: drive less, especially the no-fun driving like commuting in traffic. So two years ago the better half and I relocated, cutting my daily round trip from 100 kms (62 miles) to 12 kms (7 miles). Except that in my case that just doubled my desire to hit the roads on the weekend. On paper I should have cut my travel costs and emissions by 80+ %. In reality in was more like 40%. Still better, but not what I expected and no longer balancing the budget either since we had now committed to a 50% more expensive house to be this close to work. OK, so what's next? What about diesel? Way better thermal efficiency and mileage, huge torque, and the new ones were as smooth and refined as gas. However automakers have been woefully slow to bring fun diesels with serious performance to our side of the world. There's a lot of stuff I was willing to compromise on but I HAD to have compact size, 0-60 in under 6 seconds AND all-wheel-drive. My choices were... zero.
    It was around this time that I started paying a lot more attention to Tesla's efforts.As both a car and space geek I was of course amazed with what Elon had been able to do with both Tesla and SpaceX but I still felt more like a detached observer. I hadn't considered a brand new car in more than 20 years (didn't make sense when I was fully capable of doingall my own servicing and was going to tear into them anyway with all kinds of mods) and what with the MS being way, way out of my budget, I didn't see the fit.
    Then in short succession three things happened:
    1. I was down in Cape Canaveral last January and wanted to catch a Falcon launch. To get live updates one launch status I finally succumbed and subscribed to Twitter. This in turn had me following the famously clipped but intriguing posts of you-know-who, and I quickly became hooked.
    2. Not long after following Elon he dropped an amazingly cool link to a site I'd never heard of, WaitButWhy.com, the blog site of master raconteur Tim Urban. In no time at all I had read half of his posts and soon a new one was up talking about, you guessed it, Mr. Musk and companies. I then quickly snapped up the biography by Ashlee Vance (outstanding read) and if I had been intrigued before then I now becoming a full blown cult member.
    There WAS a way to build a truly no-compromise high performance car that was even better than than best ICE.
    It could even cross continents with afull supporting network of fast chargers, something heretofore unimaginable to me.
    Why hadn't I fully realized this while it was happening???
    Maybe because half the media – much of the automotive press included – treated the whole affair like it was a some kind of hyped up trick, a house of cards that could come tumbling down at any second. Or at best an industry still in its infancy with still much compromise and a long, long way to go. And obviously on some level I had bought into that. But now I was beginning to understand that it was very real and very workable and getting better by the day.
    Of course now Having Seen The Light it would have been awful if there was no further plans beyond the S and the X to offer an affordable solution to the average schlub such as myself, but we all know that's not the case. The whole point of the Roadster and the S WAS to pave the way for mass market models such as the Model 3.
    3. I can't pinpoint the exact moment, but I can tell you it was REALLY bizarre when I first realized I was saying out loud that "I'm going to buy an electric car". It was like my subconscious suddenly shoved my conscious brain out of the way, took the keyboard and said "Muhwahahaha, watch what we're about to publicly commit him to right now!!!". Which it did, and there was no turning back. More amazing however was the reactions. Being surrounded by a company full of hard-boiled old-school petrolistaswho make their very living on the auto industry existing as we know it, I thought this would be met with at least mild contempt if not full on ridicule. But nothing could have been further from the truth. To a person everyone thought this was awesome. I couldn't get over it.
    I have to think in large part this isdue to the incredible effect the Model S has had on the public at large. Anyone not living under a rock by now has seen at least one if not a mountain of glowing reports on it. What's interesting is that very few people, enthusiasts included, have any idea that the 3 is coming, or if they do, that it will be so affordable. That of course will all change in March when the lid is blown off, and I'll sure as hell be doing my part to add to the noise (that is once MY pre-order is secure, of course!).

    I truly cannot wait. To me, we're on the verge of a technology shift not seen in transportation since the dawn of the jet age, and the parallels are many. Much faster, way quieter, far less maintenance. Just like folks today who marvel at the patience of those who endured rattling across the oceans in DC3's, we will look back 20 or 30 years from now and think “ahhh, those people who had to be propelled to work by thumping explosions... how complicated and tiring that must have been.”
    However on that subject I do have a confession.
    I think there's a part of me, and many others, who have a very powerful emotional attachment to the internal combustion experience, and will be loathe to give it up in its entirety. And that can be a major inhibiting factor to true mass adoption if not handled properly. Obviously there's already huge resistance from the oil companies, witness some of them now trying to peddle hydrogen fuel cells as the “real” alternative. But I am absolutely sure that the next hurdle, once its apparent that battery electrics are going to be Big, is that many ICE enthusiasts will see them as a threat to their kind.
    Here's the thing. We need to convince the ICE diehards that the absolute best thing that could happen to them is that the vast majority of Joe Public goes electric. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that something like 10% of the driving population are ICE diehards... muscle car owners, track rats,off-roaders, who will have to have the pump handle removed from their cold, dead hands. You know what? That is absolutely fine in my books. If we convert the other 90% as well as attack all other sources of GHG emissions with everything we've got, we WILL be able to things under control while still having a few million ICE vehicles running around worldwide, especially if most of them are just for pleasure use. And I'm likely going to be one of those folks. As much as I'm ridiculously stoked at what the future of battery electric driving is going to bring, I know at some point later on I'm going to need fun car for the odd track day or jaunt down memory lane. Because as much as I love crossing oceans in near silence in matter of hours, my jaw still drops in awe at the sound of a Merlin-engined P-51 Mustang. No jet at any airshow will ever come close. Props will always have a place for such occasions in the air, and so should ICE on and off the road. My goal then is to convince both enthusiasts and my industry that the best way to preserve the future of ICE for hobbyists is to make sure everyone makes the switch for everyday use to sustainable transport and energy. That to me would be a true win-win future.
    Going electric for me is without a doubt going to be the highlight of my life so far as an automotive junkie. For the first time ever I'll be able to strafe the roads at will for just pennies a mile, leaving nothing in my wake but mad laughter, refilling my “tank” every night with energy from falling water. No more apologies or guilt. I CAN have it all.

    Now bring on the 3 so I can get busyproving this to the rest of the world!

    Ian Pavelko
     
  2. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2015
    Messages:
    1,397
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Huffing gasoline is bad, mmmkay. j/k

    Welcome to the forum!
     
  3. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2012
    Messages:
    1,722
    Location:
    Plano, TX
    Wow!! That was very well written and I enjoyed every bit of it, that I read it twice.


    "Greenhouse gas was something you worried about if you'd overindulged at Taco Bell prior to tending your indoor tomato crops."

    Lol !!
     
  4. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,393
    Location:
    United States
    Loved it; We all found a different path... the challenge is going to be finding a way to guide others without them 'digging in'. Sad to say that I've mostly failed in that goal.

    I spoke to an oil field worker today... he told me about a new fracking method that can lower their costs per barrel to $30... BEVs are going to have to win on their own merit. We can't wait for peak oil, by then it will be far far too late and the damage will be done.
     
  5. Mad Hungarian

    Mad Hungarian Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Messages:
    272
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Thank you all for the welcome and comments (not to mention the stamina to slog through that :smile:).

    nwdiver - As I mentioned in the post I've been amazed how positive responses I've had so far while even just talking about the concept. I'm sure once I actually have a car to drive around, write about and start reaching a larger audience I suspect I'll start getting a wider point of view, and not all of it sunshine and roses. But we all need to keep at it and find the approach the works best. The cars already stand on their own merits IMHO. If the S and the X are any indication then the 3 should be a true Weapon of Mass Conversion.
    The real hurdle will be cleaning up power generation in areas that are not as fortunate as here to have so much renewable.
     

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