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Road safety concerns: Batch of new high performance EVs relegate muscle Trans Am to near ‘pedal car’ status
burt reynolds
Burt Reynolds (aka Bandit of “Smokey and the Bandit” fame) with a 1970s era Trans Am.

So how would a remake of “Smokey and the Bandit” go for Burt Reynold’s character using new GM technology?

Let’s say GM was still making its infamous Pontiac Firebird Trans Am muscle car.

Instead of the largest and most powerful engine ever crammed under the hood with the Trans Am’s signature screaming chicken decal displayed for all to see, it was powered with the same technology as its new E-Ray Corvette.

That screaming machine of an engine from the 1970s was the 455 HO (High-Output) V8. It delivered 480 pound-foot of torque. It had a 200 horsepower rating.
The new gas-electric hybrid Corvette delivers 655 horsepower and 595-pound-foot of torque.

The E-Ray rolling out to Chevrolet showrooms in 2024 goes from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 second. That’s faster than the current ability of the most powerful Stingray now sold by 0.4 seconds.

Compared to the Trans Am, its grease lightning. The 1970s V8 on steroids, Detroit-style, clocked in at 4.6 seconds going from zero to 60 mph. It makes the dream speed machine of Eric Foreman and his buds in “That ‘70s Show” seem like a Yugo.

The top speed of that Trans Am was 155 mph compared to 180 mph for an E-Ray.

But before a wannabe Burt Reynolds starts making bets about delivering a truckload of Coors across state lines in 28 hours, he’d better make sure whoever is handling the role of Jackie Gleason is not using a gas-powered police unit.

The E-Ray is clearly more gas than electric. It has a 3 to 4 mile range on electricity only.

Yes, it is far from being a  true electric vehicle.

Such a Corvette is coming with a GM pledge to sell only zero tailpipe emission vehicles by 2035.

The E-Ray — clearly not designed for practical driving — is a marketing ploy. And an effective one at that.

It keeps the American muscle car mojo alive and robustly purring while whetting the appetite for traditional nameplates from commuter cars to fast sports cars while GM gets the technology down pat for affordable production electric vehicles.

Future Corvettes will clearly chase the promise of the Rimac Nevera, a Croatian masterpiece of power, speed and zero emissions  starting at $2,050,500 or about what a dozen eggs will cost by the end of this year.

The Rimac Nevera tops out at 258 mph. It is the fastest EV production car in the world

It goes from 0 to 60 mph in a whiplash 1.85 seconds. Even so, it is only the third fastest  production car for acceleration. That honor goes to the Aspek Owl produced in Japan. For $4 million, you can go from 0 to 60 mph in 1.69 seconds.

But here’s where whoever is channeling Jackie Gleason as the sheriff starts cleaning his sunglasses and saying “you’re in a heap of trouble, boy.”

The $2 million Rimac Nevera has a battery pack range of 340 miles.

That’s slightly more than the 315 mile range of  the Tesla Model 3.

It takes 15 minutes on a supercharger to restore 200 miles of capacity to a Tesla battery.

Supposedly, American car buyers are skittish about the 300 mile range of most EVs today.

Of course, more charging stations — including in relatively remote areas — will ease that concern.

It also will help if charge times are reduced close to the amount of time we now spend at a gas pump filling up.

There are real serious problems that still need to be answered. Besides batteries performing less efficiently in cold as well as hot weather and the issue of supercharging  reducing the life of the battery pack.

If the battery pack needs to be replaced, Recurrent reports Tesla charges $15,800 for a Tesla 3 battery pack.

Experts are probably right in noting that over time technology and scale of production will bring down the price and increase battery efficiency.

That is little comfort  to any motorist that may get tangled up in an EV-era chase with Sheriff Buford T. Justice  in hot pursuit.

Jennifer Homendy fears the advent of mass produced EV technology will make the roads in the United States less safe and result in more deaths.

No, Jennifer Homendy is not the screen name of Sally Fields’ character in “Smokey and the Bandit.”. That name was Carrie.

Homendy is the head of the National Transportation Safety Board.

She is paid to be cornered about safety.

Homendy shared her concerns in a speech last week before the Transportation Research Board in Washington.

Homendy zeroed in on three points that have nothing to do with the occasional battery pack fire or dolts driving in auto mode with hands off the wheel as well as eyes off the road.

*The fact EVs are much heavier than their gas-powered counterparts.

*The ability of most EVs to accelerate faster than conventional gas-powered vehicles.

*The profile of many EVs are higher than their counterpart’s on the road.

“I’m concerned about the increased risk of severe injury and death for all road users from heavier curb weights and increasing size, power, and performance of vehicles on our roads, including electric vehicles,” Homendy said in remarks prepared for the group.

She has a point — to a degree.

It is true that battery packs needed to achieve the 300 mile or so range Americans say they want weigh thousands of pounds.

Homendy noted that Ford’s F-150 Lightning EV pickup is 2,000 to 3,000 pounds heavier than the same model’s combustion version. The Mustang Mach E electric SUV and the Volvo XC40 EV are roughly 33% heavier than their gasoline counterparts.

But the reality is there already existing a high percentage of heavy vehicles — think SUVs and pickup trucks — on the road today thanks to their growing popularity. That doesn’t even add commercial trucks to the equation.

Homendy’ s point, of course, is EV sedans and such will be heavier than existing gas models such as the Hummer that bulks up to 9,000 pounds as an EV. Its 2,900 pound battery pack is roughly the same weight as a typical gas-powered Honda Civic.

The National Bureau of Economic Research published a paper that said being hit by a vehicle with an added 1,000 pounds increases by 47% the probability of being killed in a crash.

 The disparity in vehicle profiles has always been a concern.

And while weight is a concern in a crash, the real wild card isn’t bulk or height. It’s acceleration.

Attentive drivers that have faster acceleration as a tool could likely avoid some accidents.

The problem is with inattentive drivers and the morons that terrorize roads with their aggressive anti-social driving behavior with more accelerations at their disposal.

It is a lethal double whammy.

New technology is not the problem.

It is unscrupulous driving with a  wanton disregard for the rules of the road that includes everything from rolling through stop signs to texting while driving.

There is a quick way to sum up Homendy’s warnings.

Fear people, not technology.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at