From the July/August 2023 issue of Car and Driver.
As with most big reveals at C/D, our art department gets to break the news about EV of the Year. Shoutout to creative director Darin Johnson for bringing executive editor K.C. Colwell’s mad-scientist idea to life on the cover. You know by now that the Hyundai Ioniq 6 is our Electric Vehicle of the Year. Here, I’ll share some thought-provoking discussions that happened behind the scenes during our EV of the Year testing.
It’s unlikely to surprise any C/D reader that we all agreed that electrics will not be mainstream overnight. A more surprising idea? The electric fleet, like the market overall, will continue to favor SUVs and pickups, not cars. Not the electric future Al Gore had in mind? Blame it on the feds.
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New purchase incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act appear to be nudging electric-vehicle buyers toward trucks, SUVs, and vans. Tax-credit eligibility is capped at $55,000 for cars but allows a customer to spend up to $80,000 on a truck. And that new electric fleet will be heavy. The all-wheel-drive version of Volkswagen’s electric SUV, the ID.4 Pro, weighs 4886 pounds, which is 879 pounds more than a loaded Tiguan. A Hummer EV SUV weighs 8660 pounds, nearly 2000 more than the old Hummer H1, the really big military one. Sure, the new EV Hummer might be good for party tricks—it hits 60 mph in a mind-boggling 3.4 seconds—but weight is the enemy of efficiency, and isn’t that the whole point here?
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Contributing editor John Voelcker’s crystal ball also conjured an unexpected vision for the future. Voelcker sees the roads in the next decade being shared by EVs and heavy-duty internal-combustion-engine pickups. Huh?
Built to work, gas- or diesel-powered big pickups tow and haul in a way that Voelcker believes will challenge battery technology, even into the next decade. Fueling Voelcker’s prediction for a bifurcated fleet is the fact that heavy-duty vehicles weigh out of current EPA fuel-economy oversight and have easier emission targets to meet. Voelcker believes that HD-sized loophole will continue to be exploited: “I can imagine vehicles being promoted to heavy-duty status because that category has far less stringent rules and regulations on emissions.”
Ford’s Super Duty and its peers from Chevy, GMC, and Ram will stick around not just for truck lovers but also for those who may have been more comfortable with a smaller engine and remain resistant to switching to electric. “The use of high-luxury HD pickups for commuting by wealthier buyers is the canary in the coal mine for that trend,” Voelcker predicts.
In Back to the Future, Doc Brown asked, “Why are things so heavy in the future?” We finally have an answer: the unintended consequences of regulation.
Tony Quiroga is an 18-year-veteran Car and Driver editor, writer, and car reviewer and the 19th editor-in-chief for the magazine since its founding in 1955. He has subscribed to Car and Driver since age six. “Growing up, I read every issue of Car and Driver cover to cover, sometimes three or more times. It’s the place I wanted to work since I could read,” Quiroga says. He moved from Automobile Magazine to an associate editor position at Car and Driver in 2004. Over the years, he has held nearly every editorial position in print and digital, edited several special issues, and also helped produce C/D’s early YouTube efforts. He is also the longest-tenured test driver for Lightning Lap, having lapped Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course more than 2000 times over 12 years.