Stephen Golub: From the Benicio dealership to our electrified future (2023)

Stjepan Golub, born May 1, 2023

Stephen Golub: From the Benicio dealership to our electrified future (1)

Versions of this article also appeared in Stephen Golub's weekly Benicia Herald column "Benicia and Beyond" and his domestic and international affairs blog,The Promised Land: America as a Developing Country.

Stephen Golub: From the Benicio dealership to our electrified future (2)

My new hometown of Benicia, Californiahost 28czThe annual classic car fair at the end of last month.

I suppose I could begin my discussion of this event, as well as electrification trends in the global auto market, by lamenting America's historical love of gas guzzlers and its legacy of overconsumption and pollution.


More on the future later. But now...


After visiting the play, I must admit that I am delighted. This is the first meeting I have attended. You have no idea how many cars were on display... 400? 600?

I didn't leave this classic car lover. But even with the excess fuel in the vintage cars, this blast from the past and a slice of American culture was a lot of fun.

Most of the vehicles were from the early 1930s to the mid-1960s. These ranged from old Fords and Packards to Behemoths and relatively new muscle cars.

It seemed like an act of love to restore and preserve these beauties. The proud owners were happy to answer questions, discuss the intricacies of the engine and bask in the sunshine and bright shine of their prized possessions, which in most cases are now kept more for display than touring.

As I listened to some of the conversations, I realized how little I understood. But you don't have to be an expert to enjoy the event.

The owners were mostly men. As a friend joked, walking among so many hundreds of horse stallions, he felt a rush of testosterone.


It was hard to pick a favorite from the array of brilliant humdingers. But the ones that caught my eye the most were the red '31 Model A, the beautifully detailed Caprice, and my neighbor's stunning 1965 Mustang that I noticed when he occasionally drove it around town.

Another '65 model, the Impala, brought back memories of the distant past. The Impala was the first car I drove, although it wasn't as old or as big as this one. The smell of fragrant fuel coming from behind the car also brought back memories of those good times.

The meeting was fun for another reason. It was a family business, with lots of kids and dogs. There were also some great food trucks. I enjoyed a delicious Louisiana hot link, cooked in onions, barbecue sauce and mustard, washed down with freshly made lemonade. The little beer garden was tempting, but at 11am I wasn't up for it.

It was sort of the classic Benicia festival that the city is known for.

All in all, a good time was had by all, whether you're a classic car junkie or just a novice like me, wandering around in wonder.

riding with Bruce

Stephen Golub: From the Benicio dealership to our electrified future (3)

I'm a fan of Bruce Springsteen, I couldn't help but mention the many songs where he talks about cars: Pink Cadillac, Cadillac Ranch, Born to Run, Thunder Road, Fire, Stolen Car, Used Cars, Ramrod, My Hometown and many more.

And then there are these lines from Racing in the Streets:

I have a sixty nine Chevy three ninety six
Fuelie and Hurst's heads on the ground

I have no idea what he's talking about.

But you don't need to understand those words to know that cars are part of our culture, our history and our evolution as a country and a society.

The future is (almost) now

Which brings me to electric vehicles (EVs) - or, for the purposes of the statistics discussed here: all-electric, plug-in, light-duty vehicles (excluding hybrids).

Although still a small part of the global market, annual sales are growing exponentially,from one million in 2015 to 20 million a year ago.

I won't go into the huge and well-known environmental benefits of switching to electric vehicles. Suffice it to say that they are very useful in combating climate change, improving air quality and improving our health and well-being.

However, before we get too excited about the promise of electric vehicles, there are some additional considerations to consider. Installing fast charging stations across the country is challenging, although recent federal regulations are funding a significant increase in these installations. In addition, there is also the issue of obtaining the necessary material for the manufacture of car batteries, such aschallenges related to social and economic justicewhich the process requires.

In addition, it is necessaryabout 17,500 milesbefore electric vehicles in the US reach the "breakeven point" where their cumulative carbon emissions begin to compare favorably with their combustion engine counterparts. (Electric vehicles have higher initial environmental costs due to the carbon waste from their production and related processes.)

But that initial emissions burden is a relative reduction, given the average lifespan of a car (including electric vehicles) of over 100,000 miles. The break-even point is gradually decreasing due to improved manufacturing practices and the shift to power plants that harness solar, wind, hydro, and other sustainable energy to power electric vehicle batteries.

For example, in Norway, wherecars mostly rely on hydroelectric sources(and which has the highest EV per capita in the world), environmental sustainability for electric vehicles becomes more desirable after only 8,000 miles of use.

None of this is to deny that many Americans are still hooked on SUVs and pickup trucks. But there is also great progress in this regard, as more and more are electric. In addition, thanks to extremely large batteries, the Ford F-150 Lightning and other electric pickup trucks can becomevirtual power plantsfor homes, construction equipment and countless other uses.

This change for the better happens very quickly.A survey of more than 1,000 automotive executivesgave an average prediction that by 2030 more than half of US car sales will be electric vehicles, which is in line with President Biden's sales goal. The survey made similar predictions for the Japanese market and large Chinese markets. Whether we achieve this goal or not, the evolution of our automotive industry is already underway.

the market speaks

Will consumers really live up to the predictions of automotive executives? This is where the rubber meets the road. For many customers, this will be completely justified for environmental reasons, in terms of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and other forms of pollution.

For many others, the price will drop. But with expensive gas,increased competition and government incentivesaccelerating the transition to electric vehicles, Tesla's days as the dominant industry appear doomed. Lower maintenance costs for electric vehicles will also help shift the market away from internal combustion engines.

Speaking of price,China and India have electric vehicles priced at $4,600 and $5,800 respectively in their home markets.. Certainly its batteries are small, intended for local driving only, and would probably not meet US regulatory requirements. But the point is that increasing global investment in electric vehicles is producing different cars for different purposes and societies.

Osim Cadillac Pink

Which brings me back to vintage vehicles, muscle cars, pink Springsteen Cadillacs, and many other collectibles today. The past is the past. We can admire the old while appreciating the benefits of the new for our environment, our health, our wallets and our planet.

I welcome such changes. I'm still looking forward to it. But I'm looking forward to next year's classic car show.

(bonus: HL, CS)

Stjepan Golub, resident of Beniciaoffers an excellent perspective in his blog Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a developing country.

To access other posts or subscribe, go to your blog,Promised land.


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