I should start off by saying I was never a car enthusiast, in fact I still think auto racing is nothing but noise pollution. My fascination with electric cars started in 2002 when I read an article on a new concept car by GM called Hy-Wire, which was an electric car powered by Hydrogen. The car used a delivery system often seen in fighter jets called Fly by Wire. The cavernous storage space due to the skateboard chassis and lack of combustion engine peaked my interest in the beginning, as I learned more about the Drive by Wire system I became increasingly fascinated. The Hy-Wire got its name due everything being controlled electronically, so the steering/controls can be move to either of the two front seats.
My interest may have been because of just how un-car it was, it had no brake or gas pedals, the car’s steering wheel was more similar to a game controller, with everything built into the wheel. I followed the progress over the years, and heard they were building a consumer car based on the technology. Unfortunately, the car that ended up getting developed was so far from the Hy-Wire that I question if they borrowed anything from the car.
The Chevy Volt was the car I had heard was spun off from the Hy-Wire concept car. It’s an electric car, but uses a combustion engine to charge the batteries. I started following the volt’s progress right around 2007 when the concept car was released, everyone loved it. The car looked menacing, and pretty damn cool, unlike most hybrid’s on the market which generally all look the same in order to get the least drag, and thus use less gas. Little did anyone know however, the end result would be nothing like the concept, they got everyone interested by showing the concept, then completely redesigned the exterior in order to produce the least amount of drag possible. The end result is the car we see on the road today.
When I found out the engine compartment was now consumed with a combustion engine and the skateboard chassis was awol, I was disappointed to say the least. However, true to the core, it was still an electric car, and the combustion engine was only used for long distance trips. At the time it made sense, battery tech wasn’t where it is today, so I conceded, and became slightly obsessed with their success.
Not long after the Volt went on sale, Tesla popped onto my radar. I followed them but not fanatically early on because of the cost of the car. One of the first things I heard about the company was how they took used laptop batteries to build their battery packs, I’m still not sure how entirely true this was. But it’s what got me interested, I loved how they didn’t go the conventional route.
When they announced the three car phase ending with a reasonably priced car in 6-8 years, I started following them much closer. To me Tesla felt like a company shunning everything done in the last 100 years, and hired bunch of computer geeks to build a car that today’s generation would want to drive. The end result is the Model S, which is debatably the most beautiful car ever produced. I feel like it came full circle, and the Model S is a beautiful version of everything I loved about the Hy-Wire.
Like the Hy-Wire everything is built into the floor of the car, thus making it virtually impossible to roll over and the weight and high grade chassis made it indestructible in accidents. Everything about this car is absolutely beautiful, unfortunately I’ll never own one as its way outside my price range, but the Model 3 announced in 2012 for sale in 2017/2018 is where I’ve got my sights set on.