It’s the big headline today! Ford is going to formally announce its new all-electric F-150 pickup truck! Oh, can’t you just barely contain the excitement! Yesterday, President Biden took one for a test drive in a lot where everything a 78-year-old man might run over had been removed.
This year, General Motors announced that it plans to phase out electric vehicles by 2035 and manufacture only electric vehicles. (Note: this site may have a paywall.) I here briefly explain why this will not happen.
It is true that hybrid and electric vehicles get much better fuel efficiency, without sacrificing maneuverability, than gasoline vehicles. Anyone like myself who has driven one will attest to this. I enjoy my hybrid more than any car I have ever owned. Mine is a Prius but I have no reason to doubt the quality of other brands.
But it will never happen in America, or at least in Oklahoma.
This is because, in America, the purpose of a vehicle is not only, perhaps not mainly, transportation. At least where I live in Oklahoma, the major purpose of a vehicle for many people is not transportation, but to express dominance, fury, and frustration to everyone within hearing or collision range.
Redneck Okies love to drive around big, noisy, fuming trucks even when they have nowhere they need to go. They drive them fast, which means they sometimes cannot control them. For this purpose, an electric vehicle simply will not work.
First, the vehicles have to be big. Size itself should be no deterrent to the adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles. Rednecks think that nobody can admire them if they drive a small vehicle. By actual count, about one-third of all vehicles I have seen in Oklahoma are big pickup trucks. Therefore, most electric vehicles will be unacceptable to redneck Okies though perhaps to other Oklahomans.
Second, the vehicles have to be heavy. One of the ways in which hybrid and electric vehicles get good fuel efficiency is by using lightweight components. But redneck Okies want to have not just large trucks but heavy ones. The reason for this is that they want to express their fury by driving around a vehicle that can bash other vehicles without harming their own. To them, the entire system of roads is a potential demolition derby. This, at least, has been my experience. In my family, we have had collisions that were not our fault on four occasions in the last couple of decades. In each case, the driver was a white man with a larger vehicle, on two occasions a large truck. One of those collisions—very recent, and an ongoing source of grief—was a hit-and-run in which the white man with the big pickup drove away from the scene, after causing an injury. The victims were my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. In another case, my vehicle was totaled by a pickup truck that did not get even a scratch—and the driver had false insurance cards. In none of these cases did the police actually seek out the drivers. It was, instead, the insurance companies that did so. Public safety does not matter; only profit. But at least there is profit in the service of public safety, from time to time. In order for a pickup truck to crush a smaller vehicle, it does not need to just be large but to be heavy. Electric and hybrid vehicles, even when large, are relatively light.
Third, the vehicle has to produce a lot of noise. The redneck drivers want everyone around them to hear their dominance, fury, and frustration. At both of my residences in Oklahoma, there is nearly a constant stream of big pickup trucks that are extremely loud. The drivers want us to admire them—and they assume everyone admires a loud truck. Maybe the redneck guys think they can get a gal that way. “Oh, wow, he must be such a man—he can push down a gas pedal!” Whether there really are any women who are that stupid or not I do not know. When I see the looks on the faces of the drivers, I sometimes see fury and frustration. Electric and hybrid vehicles are quiet. By actual count, at least half of the beg pickup trucks I see are loud. The technology exists for even a heavy truck to be quiet, as about half of them are. But a quiet truck is, to the rednecks among Oklahomans, unacceptable.
Fourth, the vehicle has to produce a lot of fumes. A truck with good fuel efficiency cannot produce fumes. Fumes are a way for the driver to create a space of dominance around him an to antagonize other people.
For these four reasons, hybrid and electric vehicles will never predominate in Oklahoma, unless there is a complete, and nearly impossible, shift away from the redneck culture. Here in Oklahoma, we still fly confederate flags, for God’s sake (at least the rednecks think it is for God’s sake).