This week, The inevitable welcomes a colleague and competitor, automotive journalist Kristen Lee. We’ve known Kristen for a decade, watching from afar as she rose through the ranks at various automotive publications…Road and track, Jalopnik, Business Intern—before landing her current position (assistant editor at The reader) in April 2021. Kristen has also appeared several times on our pandemic-inspired car game show Shift Talkers and quickly became a fan favorite.
Just like the cars themselves, the way automotive journalists cover cars is changing. Time was, 0-60 mph was a major metric, a seemingly simple number, but revealing and subversive at the same time. Remember, for over two decades our national speed limit was, pathetically, 55 mph. Therefore, the 0-60 mph was subversive. How fast could your car snub a bad law? These days? The Tesla Plaid can do this in about 2 seconds flat. Nuts and 7,200-pound electric pickups like the MotorTrend Rivian R1T Truck of the Year can hit 60 mph in 3.1 seconds. With off-road tires? 3.2 seconds. The thing is, 0-60 mph has quickly gone from the most important stat for any given car to one that quickly becomes meaningless.
So how can we automotive journalist types review cars when they’re all crazy and fast? When there is no engine to become poetic? No melodious exhaust? And when cars no longer have a steering wheel? Then what ? Ed and I agree that we’ll both be dead or in the nursing home by the time that last question comes to fruition, but Kristen is a younger generation and will likely still be working when 2050 rolls around. We talk about these and other challenges we face today and what people like Kristen will face in the future when considering electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles.
Kristen also brings something else to the electric vehicle discussion, something that, for biological reasons, Ed and I never considered. What is the female experience? This may seem like a weird question or concern, but have you noticed that EV chargers tend to be in isolated places? What does it feel like when you need to charge a car for 30 minutes in a deserted parking lot alone in the middle of the night? Pretty telling things that we haven’t heard from automakers. Kristen also brings up the fact that so many of the electric vehicles we talk about are aimed directly at the upper middle class (Rivian, for example) or the simply wealthy (Lucid). To sum up, she makes an hour of great, thought-provoking points.