The UK Has Somehow Lost The Electric Car Race Before It’s Even Started

I’ve just got back from my first experience charging an electric car on the motorway, and it was an absolute unadulterated sh*tshow.

Let me preface this with an awkward admission, one which will either warm you to my cause or have you eject from this rant right now. I love electric cars and believe they are a bright and prosperous future, both for car fans and those who don’t want the planet to meet an early demise. I pay my $5 a month Patreon donation to the Fully Charged Show so exciting advocates like Robert Llewellyn and Johnny Smith can champion their virtues and bring more people into this movement. I want electric cars to work and I drive a V8 Jeep that gets 15mpg. I get it — it seems however the powers that be in the UK do not.

My dad called me up last weekend with a welcome surprise, he’d gone and traded in his Sports Diesel powered CLS for a BMW i3. Knowing how much this car had excited him from launch, I was delighted for him. The car is brilliant. It’s reinforced my view that electric cars are brilliant. I’m a little in love with it. I hope to do a “Review not a Review” for Men in Sheds once Andrew has gone through the therapy he needs to set foot inside a BMW.

My dad is also a pensioner, who was doing so few miles in said Mercedes it was killing batteries and had to be trickle charged on a fortnightly basis for fear of a multitude of low charge warnings, the potential to find himself stranded, or having both two-tone horns deciding to go off continually in the middle of the night. He figured, if he was going to have to plug a car in all the time, it might as well be an electric car. He made a great choice.

However, we just got back from charging at a motorway services, and I have to scream, WHAT THE F***K IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY? WHY CAN’T WE GET ANYTHING RIGHT? HOW ARE WE LOSING THIS RACE ALREADY?

Continue reading The UK Has Somehow Lost The Electric Car Race Before It’s Even Started

VTECs Aren’t Fast… and That’s Fine

In Episode 18 Chris and I might have angered a few Honda owners by suggesting that their beloved VTECs – Type Rs, no less – aren’t actually fast. Fearing that one of us might soon get doxxed by a furious EP3-owning IT professional I figured it was time to clarify our position. Don’t call it a backtrack though – they aren’t fast.
Continue reading VTECs Aren’t Fast… and That’s Fine

Oh America, How Your Current Car Culture Confuses Me

Usually I go into writing an article with a clear idea of what it is I want to say. Often this comes about thanks to some deep reflection which has led one or two conclusions — this is one of those few times I’m completely at a loss. I simply don’t know how I feel about American car culture right now, having just spent a few weeks over there.

Like a lot of car fans my age, the United States had a huge affect on my upbringing and love of all things automotive. I grew up on a daily dose of Dukes of Hazard, A-Team, the Fall Guy, and Knight Rider with seasonal lashings of Battle of The Monster Trucks and weekend features of Cannonball Run, Smokey and the Bandit, Herbie, and more.

In fact, back then, it feels like everything out of America was sprinkled with car culture like it was the pop equivalent of cinnamon. The Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles had their van, the Munsters their kustom coach, and the Monkees rode around in their Monkeemobile. Barbie had a Ferrari, Ken had a Corvette, and each of Charlie’s Angels had car to help define their personality. It was like nobody could ever really feel actualised until they had a car to define their being — it helps explain a lot about my generation’s attitude to modified car culture now.

My first trip to The States was back in 2007 and, in those ten years since, I’ve been back three times. Each time I visit, it seems their car culture has taken another long step in the wrong direction.

We flew out to Phoenix, Arizona this time, via Atlanta. One of my favourite parts of flying to America is landing at the airport, not just because I hate flying but because you’re greeted with F-Series trucks and E-Series vans cruising around airside getting their jobs done. That never seems to change. Blue collar car culture remains as American as concealed carry and barely anymore progressive. When a white F150 eventually dies, it’s replaced with slightly curvier F150 which may or may not have a new generation of engine between the rails of what is in earnest a 70 year old chassis bordering on an institution. You could start a religion there around ladder frames and leaf springs and thousands upon thousands would come to hear you preach. And I like that. Commercial vehicles are the most organic of any country’s automotive portfolio, be it the Transit van of the UK or the Tuk Tuks of Indaa.

However, from the second you walk out those automatic doors and drag your luggage by the taxi rank, you quickly see what American cars have become. They are fat, they are ugly, and many of them are obese. They are a mishmash of vacuous European blandness and crass American hedonism. This is now a world of the have and have-land-yachts. Continue reading Oh America, How Your Current Car Culture Confuses Me

Flight Or Fight — Our Human Response When Our Cars Break Down

I’m fortunate enough to write that I’ve only ever suffered two instances where a car of mine has, as Rolls Royce famously put it, failed to proceed. The first was when the coil went on my Mini and the second was when my XR4x4 ripped a tie-rod through a decaying bush.

Now, that’s not to say I’ve never been in a situation where recovery may have been the appropriate fix — I’ve bump-started my own car while having to push and hold the battery cable in place at the same time, I’ve vibrated an hour down the M6 with a driveshaft universal joint failure, and… well… there’s worse I don’t feel too comfortable talking about in the public arena.

I have recovery cover. I keep my card with me on all journeys, and I have the number stored in my phone. I admit I’ve been lucky, but I’ve also been resourceful, hence why these days I carry more stuff in my trunk than a WRC support vehicle. That said, a lot of how we act in these situations comes down to how we operate at our core.

During the last Men In Sheds vlog, a Barn Tune episode where we replaced the turbo in Andrew’s Wagon-R, we ventured out to conduct a road test and collect some pizza. We were far too pre-occupied with the pizza. We left his home with hot tea in our bellies but no fluid checks and barely a once over of the engine bay. We took nothing with us. No oil. No water. No tools. Plus, we of course ventured out into the sticks grinning into the camera like we were invincible. We didn’t realise that our comments celebrating the Wagon-R “Moving under its own steam” would foreshadow what was about to happen. Continue reading Flight Or Fight — Our Human Response When Our Cars Break Down

Fiat’s UK Pickup Truck May Be A Fullback, But It’s Utterly Half Arsed

I don’t need to test drive, buy, or conduct an owner’s report to tell you the Fiat Full Back is a dirty mark on an otherwise remarkable portfolio from FCA — and it’s got nothing to do with how good a truck it actually is. Continue reading Fiat’s UK Pickup Truck May Be A Fullback, But It’s Utterly Half Arsed