What kind of car do you drive?

In my experience, it's a good way to get people talking. But it's changing. Also...oh, you know, 7 other things worth your time.

There’s a fairly consistent conversation-starter in the Murphy household these days. Well, consistent in terms of conversations started by me, as opposed to those started by my wife.

It goes like this: What do we do about the car?

You must understand. We live in a near-NYC suburb that bills itself as the suburb for people who don’t want to live in suburbs. Many of our neighbors have similar origin stories, stretching back a few generations. They go like this:

  1. People come to NYC from all over the US and the world.

  2. They build careers. They have a lot of fun.

  3. They meet their future spouses and get married.

  4. They have a child or two, and their NYC apartments start to feel a bit crowded.

  5. They think: You know, we should stay kind of close to the city, but it might be nice to have a backyard for the kids.

  6. They join the parade of Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV4s parked outside open houses in towns like ours, with baby seats and license plate frames reading: “Bay Ridge Honda” or “Hudson Toyota of Jersey City.”

It’s interesting to look around at the life you’ve built, and enjoyed, and are proud of—only to realize there’s a bit of cliché involved. Because not that long ago, we were that young family with the CR-V.

We’re a bit less young now, but we still have the Honda. And so, every once in a while, more frequently as the miles accrue, I find myself thinking about switching sides— going from:

  • Team: Isn’t It Nice to Have Only One Car, and It’s Paid For!

over toward …

  • Team: Since We Only Have the One Car, It Might Be Nice to Get Something Really Cool.

Which brings us to the Tesla Y, or even the 3. Or the Mustang Mach-E, or waiting around for the Volkswagen ID.4, or whatever others you’d want to add to the mix. Heck, even the Ford F-150 comes in an electric model now.

Because if Justin Rowlatt, chief environment correspondent for the BBC, is anywhere close to correct, this would be the time to seriously consider an electric car if you’re going to consider a new car at all.

As he writes:

We are in the middle of the biggest revolution in motoring since Henry Ford's first production line started turning back in 1913. And it is likely to happen much more quickly than you imagine.

General Motors says it will make only electric vehicles by 2035, Ford says all vehicles sold in Europe will be electric by 2030, and VW says 70% of its sales will be electric by 2030.

Like the internet in the ‘90s, the electric car market is already growing exponentially.

Global sales of electric cars raced forward in 2020, rising by 43% to a total of 3.2m, despite overall car sales slumping by a fifth during the coronavirus pandemic.

You can read more about what he has to say here, including what I think is a fairly convincing S-curve referencing new technology adoption: flat growth, followed by exponential growth, eventually followed again by flat growth.

Now, I’m not here to convince you one way or another.

Sure, if I could go back in time to the ‘90s, as he talks about, and really drum into my head what technology was going to be like 20 years hence, I’d probably do it.

Instead, I’m writing about this because it’s timely and futuristic (and also because I’m trying to stick to organizing this newsletter a bit more thematically—welcome to the unofficial Tech Tuesday, everyone!), but also because it’s a legitimate debate in our family.

What do we do about the car?

Last year, even during the pandemic, Tesla sold almost 300,000 electric vehicles. All the other electric vehicle manufacturers sold even more. I’m sure some of those buyers are among our readers.

In my experience, it’s never a bad conversation starter to ask a bunch of people: What do you drive and why? I’d love for you to share what you think in the comments.

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P.S.: Do you know how psyched I am to include these stills from the movie Swingers, which is now (trigger warning) 25 years old?


7 other things worth your time

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Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Well, fair use. Again, I’m glad to have an audience that will recognize Swingers. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here