We tried … a petrol car!
“After hearing so many good things about thermal engine cars, we decided to test one. Supposedly, they have both a lower purchase price, longer battery life and fast charging. The perfect solution on paper, but what is it in reality? "
So we sit in the show car at the dealership. Car manufacturers do not sell their vehicles themselves on the internet (see Tesla Motors), but only through independent car garages. It looks like a bad omen: buy your car in a place where it is repaired, places you want to visit as little as possible. But apparently you cannot buy your vehicle directly from the manufacturer, only through an intermediary. The seller was very insistent in order to sell us his car, but hey, maybe the experience is better in other dealerships?
So we take place in the vehicle and press the START button. The car's gas engine was coughing like it was dying, then it started running. You could hear the sound of the engine and the whole body vibrating like something was broken, but the salesman assured us that everything was normal. The car has an electric motor and a microscopic battery, but these are only used to start the gasoline engine – the electric motor cannot turn the wheels. The gasoline engine uses a full tank of gasoline, a fossil-source liquid, to propel the car by exploding small drops of this liquid. Apparently it's those little explosions you hear and feel when the engine is running.
The gasoline engine is made up of hundreds of moving parts that must have a tolerance of a few hundredths of a millimeter to function. We started to understand why garages are selling the cars – maybe the sellers are hoping something breaks in the car so they can fix it?
We shifted into first gear, and the car jerked forward. And it didn't even happen because we accelerated hard! Petrol engines apparently cannot drive a car as smoothly as electric motors. In fact, there was no real acceleration, since we couldn't go faster than 40 km/h! At this speed, the gasoline engine was vibrating hard and making a hell of a noise! The whole car shook violently. Convinced that something must be broken, we stopped. The salesman then explained to us that with gasoline engines, you have to “change gears” regularly! Between the engine and the wheels, there is not a gear with a fixed ratio, but a series of gears with various ratios! The gasoline engine can only produce energy in a limited speed range, and therefore must be coupled with different gears in order to continue accelerating. There are 5 different speeds that we can select, and the car speed increases accordingly. As we learned quickly, it is very important to always select the correct speed; otherwise the motor will stop or be seriously damaged! It takes extensive training to properly learn how to choose the right gear at the right time – but there are also automatic transmission models that can do it on their own. In the manual transmission car, we had to constantly listen to the engine to avoid damaging it. Very stressful.
After bringing the car up to cruising speed, making the complex gear changes, we were approaching a traffic light. Releasing the accelerator pedal did not result in any significant braking, we had to press the brake pedal hard in order to slow the car down. We were surprised to hear from the seller that the brakes are fully mechanical! The only thing they generate is heat – braking does not give fuel regeneration in the tank! This is a huge waste, but we would soon realize that the sequel could be even worse! When we stopped, the engine continued to rev and vibrate the car – even though the car was stationary! The engine continued to burn gasoline without moving the car forward! How can this be? Yes, the salesman explained, that's a fact with petrol cars: the engine is always running and burning petrol – even when the car is stationary. Some rare models, however, stop the engine at a red light, he explained. Well, that certainly makes more sense. Phew!
After a while we came to a gas station where we were going to recharge the car. The car said the tank was half full, but we wanted to try the famous super-fast charging of petrol cars! So we went to the gas station and opened the fuel cap. The filling nozzle is very similar to a charging connector, but it's not electrons coming out of it, it's gasoline. Gasoline is a highly carcinogenic, smelly and flammable liquid derived from plants and animals that have been extinct for millions of years. Gasoline is pumped to the tank of the car, which it then drags around with around 50 liters of this dangerous liquid in it. We took the nozzle to the car, but nothing happened. The seller then explained that we had to pay to get it started! Just like the fast terminals that some electricity companies have set up. After we had put the credit card in the reader, we could start. Indeed, after 3 minutes of authorization with the credit card, the filling was extremely fast! In just four minutes, we filled the gas tank to the maximum! But there were two meters on the pump: one that showed the number of liters pumped and one that showed how much it would cost us. This meter was spinning so FAST! So fast, that we could hardly see the numbers scrolling!!! Of course, we filled the tank in four minutes, but it cost us the modest sum of $55!! A full charge should therefore cost double that amount, or a HUGE $110! We were complaining that we apparently stumbled upon one of the more expensive gas stations, but no, it seems that all stations are practically the same price and all go up in price at the same time, just before the long weekends! We started asking the seller if there were any alternatives? How much does it cost to charge at home? And how many free charging stations are there?
The salesman looked very puzzled and explained to us that it is impossible to refuel cars at home, like an electric car and there is NO free gas station. We tried to explain our concerns to him again, in case he misunderstood, but he insisted that there are no service stations. Apparently, you have to stop by the gas station several times a month to fill up your petrol car at exorbitant prices – there are no alternatives! It is very strange, we thought, that none of the car manufacturers have launched their own free gas stations (cf Tesla). There is also no gas station where you can fill up slower, but at a cheaper price. We started calculating price versus consumption and came to the shocking conclusion that the cost of running a gas-powered car is an unimaginable $9 per 100 km! While electric cars are comfortably charged at home every night for $1.25 per 100 kilometers. With petrol cars, you have to make detours several times a month to fill up at these exorbitant prices – without exception! The monthly cost for a gasoline-powered car can—just for gasoline—easily exceed four hundred dollars! We started to understand why they are so cheap to buy – their running costs are extremely expensive instead. We also started to understand why there are so many gas stations all over the world, if all gasoline cars always have to go to these stations to fill up. Imagine if you could only charge your electric car at power company fast chargers – and nowhere else! With all of this in mind, we found ourselves in a traffic jam and were horrified to find that the gasoline engine continued to burn that expensive gasoline, even though the car was stationary or moving very little. With gas-powered vehicles, it's easy to run into cost anxiety – the feeling that the car is literally burning your money! No recharging at home for cheap and no regeneration of gasoline in the fuel tank when braking: it's economic madness, especially since all gasoline must be imported from abroad. We returned the car to the dealer's premises, pulled the handbrake and got out of the car. The gasoline engine kept running! Apparently, you have to manually turn off the engine to stop the combustion of the precious liquid. But we wanted to see the gasoline engine, so the salesman opened the hood. The entire front end of the car was completely cluttered with pipes, fittings, fluid reservoirs and, in the middle of it all, a huge vibrating block of cast iron which apparently is the heart of the engine. There was no room for luggage in the front of the car! Despite its enormous size, (it made a lot of noise and vibration), the engine could barely deliver a hundred horsepower! The engine was also very hot; we were burning ourselves on it when we brushed against it. It heats up even if it is a hot summer day and the engine does not need to produce heat to the cabin. Odd. We also became worried about what would happen if we had an accident in a gas-powered car? The cast iron block that takes up most of the engine compartment is located right in the middle of the crash zone! Where would it go if we collided head-on – could that big block of cast iron possibly crush our legs? To prevent a hundred kilos of cast iron on the front of the car from causing injuries, it is so much easier to build safe electric cars. Also, we have seen on hundreds of photos and videos on the internet of burning gasoline cars. It seems that the gas tank often leaks after an accident, so that the flammable liquid spills out and ignites or explodes! From the engine, under the car, there is an exhaust system – a kind of chimney for engine exhausts. When you burn carcinogenic gasoline, a lot of harmful gases are produced. The car cleans up the most dangerous gases, but what remains is released into the air behind the car, which is still unhealthy to breathe – and smells terrible! And are gas-powered cars allowed to emit these harmful gases in the middle of our cities? Gas-powered cars spit out noxious gases, and even fossil carbon dioxide that helps ensure a catastrophic future caused by climate change! We thanked the salesman for the test drive, nodded, and gave him the ignition key back (yes, he calls it that). He understood that he would not be able to do business with us and, except for one lame attempt, he did not try to sell us the car again. On the way back in our electric car, we looked with completely different eyes at the poor commuters who have to commute to town and still have to deal with their gas-powered cars. We felt compassion for these people. " Source: Test drive of a petrol car. Translation: Francois Boucher
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