Electrifying road rage

Most car owners are more than protective of their automobiles. From scratches in the paint, stains on the upholstery or the names we bestow upon our combustible engine companions, car owners are sensitive to anyone or thing that may threaten or harm the sanctity of their ride.

Car manufacturers aren’t much different.

Earlier this month, Tesla Motors's CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to denounce a review from John Broder of The New York Times.

The plan: To have Broder drive from Washington, D.C., to Milford, Conn., a distance of just under 300 miles — all on electricity rather than gasoline — in an attempt to prove that it can be done. With charging stations in place, he took to the open road.

The rest is, as they say, history.

Although the bitter cold of the area or operator error might have played an adverse role in the performance of Tesla’s Model S sedan, the trip ultimately resulted in a tow truck saving the day and a lot of finger pointing.

This isn’t the first time Tesla and Musk have had to defend themselves and their electric creations. Back in 2008, the television show "Top Gear" featured the Tesla Roadster, and they reportedly had charging problems after only 55 miles.

Citing a number of internal reports from the Roadster computer used, Tesla sued the show for libel and malicious falsehood. With "Top Gear" being classified as an entertainment show however, Tesla lost its suit.

Since then, Tesla and Musk have worked tirelessly on providing a renewable energy option for daily travel. More broadly than that, they have worked to defend and promote renewable and sustainable energy as a whole.

While Musk and Tesla are receiving a lot of attention now, this isn’t the first time an electronic vehicle, or EV, and its manufacture has encountered “a bump in the road,” if you’ll excuse the pun.

Just before 2000, GM introduced their own model named the EV1. If this is news to you, it’s because GM recalled every single car, citing issues no EV1 owner had experienced, and crushed them.

Movies like “Who Killed the Electric Car?” and “Revenge of the Electric Car” have tried to spread the word on the life and death of the EV1 while also highlighting the ongoing attempts to create, revive and sustain the electronic transportation industry.

Yet here we sit, in traffic, breathing the same old exhaust.

As a proud and talented operator of a motor vehicle, I can sympathize with those who have grown attached to driving in this day and age. Whether by need or necessity, we have all grown accustom to a particular way of life that leaves us burning gas and thinking nothing else will do.

Like many aspects of our day-to-day living, this has to change.

While the recent test drive by Broder didn’t go as all would have preferred, I’m not giving up hope. Although I’ve learned to let go of ever owning a time-traveling Delorean that runs on trash, I do believe an electronic “car” is possible in my lifetime.

What the general public needs to remind politicians and manufactures of, is that a solution is wanted prior to the Earth’s tank reading “E.”

Try as he might, Musk can’t do it all by himself.


Reach the columnist at jbfortne@asu.edu or follow him at @JOMOFO40


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