It’s OK to like internal combustion and electric cars at the same time



Being interested in electric cars doesn’t mean you have to hate internal combustion. And vice versa. This fact I hold to be true, despite what I’ve read on the internet and in the comment sections of stories both on Autoblog and elsewhere.

Car enthusiasts are sometimes oddly selective in what they like and don’t like. You grew up in a Ford Family? Great! But does that mean you have to hate Chevy? You have a job that requires you to wear work boots and drive a pickup truck? Are you therefore inclined to hate little sports cars like the Mazda Miata?

I remember growing up as a pre-teen in Northwest Ohio (it’s not exactly wrong to call Toledo a far-flung suburb of Detroit when speaking in automotive terms) and feeling a general distaste for Japanese cars and trucks. In my young mind, the overall downturn of the Big Four (at the time, AMC was still a thing) was in large part due to the influx of imported vehicles. Naturally, I didn’t fully grasp issues like quality, customer choice, efficiency or sticker prices.

I eventually got over it. Over the first decade of my post-license life, I bought several American vehicles — from old classic muscle cars to a nearly new Dodge Stratus to a used Jeep Wrangler — and I finally bought my first Japanese car, a brand-new Mazda RX-8, in 2004. I’ve since owned several more American, Japanese and German vehicles.

Back in 2004 when I dove deep into the world of Wankel rotaries, engines with pistons and connecting rods were, obviously, considered normal. Electric cars, on the other hand, seemed like little more than a novelty. The General Motors EV1 was a cool diversion, and most other electrified automobiles were offbeat oddities that barely registered as a blip on my vehicular radar.

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These days, the majority of new and interesting vehicles carry battery packs, not gas tanks. And it seems like there’s a large number of automotive enthusiasts that can’t reconcile their love for internal combustion engines with the market realities of electrification. On the flip side, there are plenty of green-leaning folks who seem to want to shame people they disagree with onto what they believe is the morally correct side.

I’m not qualified to offer much commentary on the environmental side of the gas/electric equation. I think there are arguments to be made that mining the earth for raw materials isn’t eco-friendly no matter what, and the same can be said of fossil fuels. Building cars isn’t exactly a squeaky clean business. But the world needs automobiles, and so we collectively make what we think are the right choices on how to build them and what to power them with. As of right now, from Prius hybrids to Hellcat fire breathers, consumers are spoiled with choices both new and used regardless of what kind of car they want to park in their driveway.

I think that’s great. In the same way that a mid-20s me could park a Japanese sports car in the same driveway as an iconic American off-roader and appreciate both, the mid-40s me can park a German electric hatchback in the same garage as a big old (literally) American SUV. I’m happy that I can enjoy each of those vehicles for what they are and for what they offer.

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