Electric vehicles excel in their ideal environment, much like penguins

Electric Vehicles Are Like Penguins

Electric vehicles are like penguins and albatross, awkward on their feet, they excel in their own domains. EV excel in city traffic and that’s how we should see them.

Is an electric vehicle like a Penguin? According to Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx by way of TheGreenCarWebsite, both have very much in common. I couldn’t help but be amused with the analogy, after all, we judge things at face value without necessarily putting them in their context.

Awkward Penguins On Land. Penguins are funny, especially when we see them walking. They’re awkward to say the least and at first glimpse, look more like a Cosmic joke than nature’s billion of years’ refinement. Yet that is on land, but when you observe them in water, everything changes. Their awkward little feet become powerful propellers well adapted to moving the thicker water around and their silly wings become majestic underwater ailerons. In many ways electric vehicles are the same and much as I wrote previously; Holding Electric Vehicles To a Higher Standard, why do we pit two essentially different vehicles that have very different performance on the same pole? After all, electric vehicles are perfect for short trips, congested traffic and that just about sums up 95% of our driving experience.

The Once-In-A-While Trip. By now the battery lifespan issues and other naysayers points have been debunked and the public is starting to get it. Battery packs last a long time, over 200,000 for most which pits them to a conventional internal combustion engine, ICE. The recycling issue is also moot, we do it now and it is easy to understand how much better we’ll do it in 10 years. The range issue is a sticky one and doesn’t really represent much. After all, we still have people saying an electric vehicle, EV isn’t for them because that 1 to 5% of the time when they need to travel further than the 70 to 100 mile range EVs give us, they can’t. Any pen and paper with a little homework will show you it’s actually cheaper to rent a car for such occasions. You save on insurance, maintenance and much more.

EV Are Like Penguins. EVs excel in their ideal environments. An EV on highways is much like a Penguin or an Albatross on land. It’s not yet meant to tackle long distances at sustained speeds. However put an EV in a congested city, stop and go traffic and pickup groceries and kids along the way, and an EV clearly shines in the performance department. However, many people still won’t look at a gasoline car’s performance in such situations, stop and go, short distances. Unless you have a diesel with stop and go, and even then, an ICE car is just in its ideal environment.

I liked the idea of thinking about a penguin when looking at EVs. It’s not always obvious what an object, product or service is meant for but it makes sense to think things through and give Julius Cesar his dues. With new of the Nissan Leaf lowering its price to a jaw dropping $28,800 as David Herron wrote in his; 2013 Leaf price falls to $29k, almost as low as the hybrids, it should make you start to wonder more what an $18,000 car (in certain parts of the US) can do for you with a 70 mile or so range and cheap electricity.

Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.


The Tesla Roadster Sport has nothing in common with a Penguin – unless it's the ability to reach high speed silently like a penguin sliding down an ice chute on its belly. “Omnia Gaulia est devisa en partes tres.” So begins Caesar's Gaulic Commentaries.
True, neither does the Model S and a few other select but it was more in the preconceived notions of the many. I thought it was a good analogy. As far as Julius, he may have conquered a lot of land but never our spirits. In fact, Nice, my native city was "conquered" by the French 160 years ago and we don't feel very French, and neither Italian. So it goes for the four corners of Gaul! veni vidi vici, yeah, yeah, yeah...