Electrification, the big “reset” button of the automotive industry

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend. He asked my opinion on the Toyota bZ4X. I replied that it’s a new electric car that needs to prove itself, but on paper it’s neither great nor bad. It performs adequately but fails to outperform some of its rivals, notably the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 twins.

This is what he famously said “Yes, but Hyundai is not like Toyota!” »

In fact, it was someone who was loyal to Toyota products. This love for the brand, of course, showed itself after owning several models from this manufacturer. These cars have remained loyal to him due to their high long-term reliability and low maintenance costs. Therefore, we understand that this lady wants to stick with the brand, even if Toyota has practically no experience with pure electric cars, except for hybrids and plug-in hybrids. For Hyundai in its third-generation electric models, it’s the opposite.

That’s when I realized how much of a game changer going electric is. Everything starts from scratch, it acts like a giant button reset it for the entire automotive industry.

Toyota bZ4X 2023

What does luxury mean in electricity?

I had a similar thought when I drove the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC. I wondered why it costs $40,000 more than a Tesla Model S. Tesla is poorly built and clearly not luxurious!

But is it really so? Because honestly, the finish on the Model S isn’t that bad. Admittedly, it doesn’t have the same glitz and glamor as the EQS’s ultra-bright and comfortable interior, but if it’s tall, at least its back seat is comfortable. I can’t say the same for EQS.

Is a Mercedes really worth $40,000? Technically, however, the Model S is clearly more advanced than the EQS. It accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.2 seconds (compared to 3.7 seconds for the EQS) and can travel up to 652 km on full power. According to Natural Resources Canada, the Mercedes travels 547 miles.

Tesla Model S 2023
Tesla Model S 2023 Photo credit: Tesla

So the question arises. What does luxury mean in the world of electricity? Does that mean having a higher-end interior or offering more advanced technology? We have had both in the past. In fact, if we compare the Tesla Model S with the Mercedes-Benz EQS, we can see that now one does not necessarily come with the other.

Going back 20 years, we bought a BMW over a Kia because it certainly offered a more luxurious interior and a more thoughtful design approach, but it also clearly featured more advanced engines. . However, today the Audi e-tron is no more technologically advanced than the Kia EV6. But there is a difference of more than $30,000 between these two models!

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS

Even reliability prevails

Even our ideas about reliable vehicles have changed now. If the Ford Mustang could be described as a reliable model in the past, the same is not true for the electric version of the Mach-E, which has a dismal reliability record.

The same can be said about the identity of certain builders. Take Mazda for example. Despite its small size, this Japanese manufacturer has long been associated with the quality of its engineering and the driving dynamics of these vehicles. However, with the electric MX-30, Mazda has been humiliated in the public square due to the car’s poor energy efficiency and lackluster road handling. They will tell you that other brands do better on electrics than Mazda. Considering that Mazda has been around since 1920, this finding is somewhat sad!

Therefore, we see that with the advent of electrification, our concept of a “good car” is completely changing. We can no longer rely on a car manufacturer’s reputation for reliability because that manufacturer doesn’t really use the same method to achieve its goals. We’ll think twice before signing up for a luxury model that offers less autonomy than a generic model for half the price.

2023 Mazda MX-30
2023 Mazda MX-30

When Honda uses General Motors technologies for electric cars like the Prologue or even the Acura ZDX, can we always say, “Honda, it can’t be killed because I’ve already driven over 300,000 kilometers in a Civic”? I do not believe.

It is this realization that completely changes the nature of our work as automotive journalists. If during our program on the best electric vehicles in 2022 we put the brakes on recommending almost all new electric vehicles on the market, it’s because we have very little information about the longevity of these models. Unlike thermal models, where we can rely on any experience, in the matter of electricity, everything is still too young to decide. This forces us to take a step back before recommending the model.

Actually, going back to my friend’s original question about the Toyota bZ4X, I would tell her that Toyota has yet to show any evidence in the electric field, while Tesla has been selling models in our area since 2012. they have over 300,000 kilometers on the odometer and are still running on their original battery. If I had to bet on a reliable electric model for the moment, I’d trust Tesla over Toyota. Indeed, the automotive industry has already changed a lot.

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