Editor’s letter

Fire when ready

GLENN BUTLER

THE MOTHER LOOKED UP, HORROR WRIT LARGE ON HER FACE. THE YOUNG CHILD DIDN’T SEE THE CAR BEARING DOWN ON THEM AS THEY SCURRIED ACROSS THE PARKING LOT TOWARDS THE SCHOOL.

She was focused on her friends in the schoolyard ahead, and her mother was probably focused on getting to work on time after dropping off her progeny. So it must have come as an awful surprise to the little girl to be suddenly wrenched backwards, flying through the air to land in a heap behind her rapidly retreating mother.

I’d stopped by then, a safe distance short of their aborted crossing path. I knew this was going to happen, and had covered the brake, ready to stomp. You see, similar scenarios had played out once this day already, and twice the day before.

Electric cars are a big problem for pedestrians.

Silence can be deadly.

The mother and I made eye contact, her face conveying a growing hatred for me. Clearly she felt I had set out this morning intent on killing her, and her daughter. That I’d snuck up silently on them, waiting until they were stranded in the middle of the parking lot before attempting to mow them down. A surprised, upset and defensive mother’s face conveys a lot of emotion.

I felt aggrieved. Wronged. I had actually saved them from impact with a vehicle whose 1.3 tonnes of plastic, carbonfibre and metals would have done damage to their all-too-human frames.

I waved them across, refusing to move until they were well clear of my intended path. The mother didn’t look back. The kid was crying.

Australian pedestrians are not ready for electric cars. But they need to be. We all do.

Our electric driving future is no longer ‘in the future’. It’s here, now.

This year’s COTY field includes two electric cars that make compelling cases for consumer adoption of this next-generation motive source. In the case of the Tesla Model S, the financial equation is the equal of its petrol rivals. It costs roughly the same as a 5 Series or E-Class, and has the performance, luxury and equipment to match. Not to mention more street cred. As for refinement, its near-silent electric progress makes those impressively quiet IC rivals seem rough and raucous by comparison.

The Tesla Model S is not perfect – the back seat is uncomfortable on long journeys and the cabin lacks storage – but as a mid-size luxury sedan, the Model S easily holds its own against traditional fuel-burning rivals.

The BMW i3, as you will read in our COTY coverage starting on page 68, is even better. It’s victory over one of the toughest COTY fields we’ve assembled in decades is not just proof of its innovative drivetrain and body structure, but confirmation that it works beautifully as a conventional four-adult conveyance, delivering everything Australians need and expect of a daily driver. Its case was not strong against COTY’s Value criterion, but such a massive leap forward doesn’t come without cost. Wheels’ COTY is an award for excellence as judged against five proven criteria, of which Value is just one. And against the other four – Function, Technology, Efficiency and Safety – the i3 is a standout.

Two firsts in the same year: BMW’s first COTY win, and an electric car’s first win.

The future has arrived.

Our electric driving future is no longer ‘in the future’. It’s here, now

Fire when ready

WHAT do you think of this year’s Car of the Year result?

Don’t keep it to yourself.

Join the conversation at WheelsMag.com.au or on our Facebook page. Or you can fire us a letter by email at wheels@bauertrader.com.au.

Our letters page has been absent the past two issues because we’ve had so much COTY goodness to cram into our 164 pages. It’ll be back next issue. Promise.

SOUND OF SILENCE