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Big Mike: Why I’ll never be a fan of electric cars (or their owners)

Time 9:24 am, May 17, 2019

I MAY be about to find myself in the unpopular corner here, but I don’t like electric cars. 

Don’t get me wrong – the technology is brilliant, and while I confess that I am a bit of a Luddite, I’m not enough of a caveman to ignore the fact that the car industry is constantly evolving (though as the evolution of the Peugeot 205 into the 206 proves, this is not always for the best). 

But I digress. The thing that really sticks in my craw about electric cars is the sheer smugness of some of the people who own them, particularly those who make Ned Flanders out of The Simpsons look like the perfect neighbour. There’s nothing more annoying than seeing some self-satisfied cable-knit-wearing idiot dusting his hands after plugging in a charging cable, blissfully unaware that the factory from which his electric car emerged belched out more smoke during its production than will ever come out of the exhaust of my V8 Jaguar (or at least, that’s what I like to tell myself), as did the boat that dragged it here from Japan.

Then there are the really fast and posh electric cars. If you own a Tesla, you may wish to look away now, as I might be about to offend you. 

You see, while the current catch-all phrase for the idiots on Britain’s road network tends to be ‘Audi Driver’, my fear is that the Tesla Driver goes one step beyond.

After all, he (or she) combines the self-satisfied smugness of an EV-driving eco-warrior with the other kind of self-satisfied smugness that comes with believing the badge on your car is some kind of symbol of your success in life (it isn’t, by the way – the wealthiest bloke I know drives an Austin Montego estate). 

Seriously, though. Just you watch them. 

Sprinkle my shoes

Cue best David Attenborough voice: ‘Seen here in his natural environment, the Tesla Driver thinks nothing of paying over a tenner for a mug of froth and a glorified sandwich ending in the letter ‘‘a’’, as he justifies his purchase in the motorway service area refectory.’ 

Alas, that’s exactly what Tesla drivers tend to do in my experience – indeed, I never actually see them on the road. 

Whenever I stop to sprinkle my shoes while using our motorway network (which happens more and more frequently with age), there are always somewhere between half a dozen and 10 of the dratted things parked one VIP block beyond the disabled bays, charging themselves up while their owners find somebody to bore over a soya latte, pretending it’s perfectly normal to have a 40-minute forced interruption to your journey at a rather pointless time of day, and while rush-hour traffic builds up around you.

But maybe I shouldn’t diss the Tesla after all, for I’ve hit upon an idea that could make me more money than the motor trade has ever given me. Indeed, it was while pointing Percy at the porcelain during a long road trip down the A1(M) that I believe I had my ‘This time next year, Rodney…’ moment. 

You heard it here first: Tesla Tinder. A brand new app that allows Tesla owners to find kindred spirits (of which, as we’ve already mentioned, there are likely to be about half a dozen in Costly Coffee or Megabucks). Rather than bore the pants off someone who happens to sit down close to them – something that has led me, in the past, to arrange my spare change in order of the dates minted in order to avoid eye contact (don’t tell me you’ve never done it, or indeed aren’t about to empty your pockets now out of intrigue) –Tesla owners can find each other via the app and work off their pent-up range anxiety by going for a quick, anonymous knee-trembler in the bogs at Grantham Services. 

Imagine what could happen next – the first Tesla Tinder wedding (don’t stay for the speeches, unless you have Valium), or the first Tesla Tinder illegitimate offspring, which leads to one half of the pairing having his or her Tesla chopped in half as part of an acrimonious break-up. 

You could even have cheeky Tesla Tinder lingo – like letting other users know if you’re a plug or a socket, or if you’re AC/DC or like the idea of a three-phase fast charge. 

I’ve spent most of my career flogging clapped-out Cortinas and jaded old Jags, and now I’m close to my dotage, I may have finally found my breakthrough moment. So perhaps I do like electric cars after all. 

Who is Big Mike? Well, that would be telling. What we can say is he’s had more than 40 years in the car trade so has probably forgotten more about it than we’re likely to know.

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