Reading this article about The lost history of the electric car – and what it tells us about the future of transport raises an interesting question:
[Aas more people bought private cars…] electric vehicles took on a new connotation: they were women’s cars. This association arose because they were suitable for short, local trips, did not require hand cranking to start or gear shifting to operate, and were extremely reliable by virtue of their simple design. As an advertisement for Babcock Electric vehicles put it in 1910, “She who drives a Babcock Electric has nothing to fear”. The implication was that women, unable to cope with the complexities of driving and maintaining petrol vehicles, should buy electric vehicles instead. Men, by contrast, were assumed to be more capable mechanics, for whom greater complexity and lower reliability were prices worth paying for powerful, manly petrol vehicles with superior performance and range.
Given that electric vehicles require less maintenance and don't necessarily have to offer Insane and Ludicrous modes for acceleration, will future generations of car see manufacturers offering electric vehicle models optimised for local, urban journeys?1 Or will that particular marketing opportunity be overtaken by the whole notion of owning a car giving way to subscribing to a transport service, so that the very idea of sinking serious amounts of cash into owning a car will seem as outlandish as the proposition of urban streets piled high with horse shit?
[Via Memex 1.1]
- Let's assume that genuine self-driving vehicles are several generations away yet, whatever Elon Musk's fans would like to believe. ↩