Why my next ‘car’ will either be V8 or rotary-powered.

OK, you’d think that, a someone who effectively ‘writes about cars’ for a living, I’d be one of these so-called ‘early-adaptors’ with an al-electric Tesla of some description already ‘in the garage’ and one of the radical new, UFO-lookalike Tesla cybertrucks (which despite my cynicism I urge you to check out at www.tesla.com/en_nz/cybertruck) on back order.

Even If I wasn’t that enamoured by the thought of heading off on another of my favoured long distance, late night missions ‘down country’ with only a rechargeable lithium-ion  battery array for motive power, you might think that someone in my position (you know, the Editor of New Zealand’s only monthly special interest 4×4 magazine, NZ4WD, as well as columnist here on Talk Motorsport and motorsport PR man of long standing) would have been ‘bought out’ by one company (car, truck or otherwise)  or another yonks ago.

But no, the ‘PR’ industry is in such a parlous state that the only ‘motoring writers’ I am aware of who have ‘fallen’ are TV or radio ‘personalities’ with as much credibility amongst the serious car guys I number amongst my wider circle of friends and acquaintances as a sponge.

So, yes, the chances of me banging on in a column like this about how good the latest electric car (or Ute, eh Jacinda?) is, are about as slim as they get.

The whole ‘debate’ about the pending/looming/etc. forced changeover from our existing (and dare I say it, perfectly adequate fleet of petrol and diesel-fueled Utes, SUVs, cars, vans trucks etc. is all very arbitrary – and based more on that most human and therefore fallible notion of sentiment rather than the cool, calm rationality of science.

It doesn’t help, either, when the general and broadcast media decides to fast forward through the facts of a particular story before dumbing the rest of the narrative down with cliches

Like? Like a current (sorry!) TV3 favourite, the ‘Gas Guzzler.’ First coined to describe (or rather, to denigrate) some of the more profligate of muscle cars built in the early 1970s, 70s it appears to have been resurrected by TV3 solely as a means to push its own agenda.

In saying that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Cabinet colleagues have no one to blame but themselves on the subject of electric cars and the decision to provide a rebate to encourage people to ‘trade up’ either to an all-electric EV or a plug-in style hybrid (a PHEV).

“What could possibly be wrong with THAT?” I hear many of you ask. If the Government has got some free money to give away, we should all try and get our hands on at least some of it shouldn’t we?

In theory that indeed is the case. In practice though the money is far from free because it is going to be raised with a levy (aka a tax) on what the Newshub political reporter gleefully dumbed down to the simple see-all/hear-all term, ‘Gas Guzzlers’ in her reports for TV3 news when the issue first aired.

Never mind that any $ figure would be based NOT on the amount of petrol or diesel (aka the ‘gas’) any vehicle ‘guzzled’ but on the CO2 emissions it produced, which I’m sure most of you will agree with me is a different thing entirely.

Be that as it may, what I would like to see is Ardern righting then stabilizing the policy ship before she does anything else.

Right now, for instance, I feel like a bit of a fraud; one minute, for example, we are basking in the reflected glory of united international praise for Ardern and her Labour Caucus with our Government’s ‘go-hard and go early’ response garnered to the on-going horror that is the global COVID-19 pandemic?

Yet the next I’m wincing at news of a veritable raft of the sort of ultimately irresponsible social engineering policies, and with them projects, beloved of the kind of Uni-educated socialists who, as a blue-blooded farmer friend of mine from ‘home’ (Gore) used to describe – with a wonderfully mangled metaphor – as ‘not knowing their arses from their breakfast.’

Be that as it may I feel both a certain amount of responsibility for the rapidly deteriorating situation we as ordinary, average Kiwi voters find ourselves in. After-all l was one of the hundreds-of-thousands of so-called swinging voters keen to escape the fast-sinking ship that was the once-proud (under Captain Key!) HMS National yet not ‘quite’ ready to pass my vote to the mercurial David Seymour of the ACT party.

Democracy, of course, is a wonderous (not to mention many-splendored) thing. And the ultimate power, need I must remind you, to get the kind of Government we want and think we deserve lies in our hands, and (no matter how much window-dressing that goes on) not those of the people we nominate to do the job for us.

So Jacinda, Grant, Chris et al, a big ‘ON YA’ for a start, for the sterling work you all seem to be continuing to be doing on the Covid-19 front.

I think we all prepared for another nation-wide lockdown (a couple of months ago) when that idiot from Sydney arrived in Wellington with a case of the Delta-4 variant fermenting away in his nasal cavity. However, once again you proved you had all your constituents’ best interests at heart.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that you – and some of the more hidebound ideologues that obviously still lurk in the darker reaches of your party – have any sort of right to force their outdated views and worse still, policies on the rest of us.

In general, here I’m talking about Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s heavy-handed ‘Muldoon-esque’ interference in the machinations of the Reserve Bank and Governor Adrian Orr’s management of the ‘situation’ vis a vis investors cfm first home buyers during the latest ‘unfettered boom in house prices’ across the country.

The key core reason prices continue to rise is to do with demand – and until supply finally catches up with it – if, indeed, it ever can and does, cashed-up older buyers will continue to outbid their earnest, younger brethren every time.

Also, by penalising the owners of rental properties, yet again (this time by eliminating the ability of a landlord to claim the interest on the loan for his or her investment property) the Govt runs the very real risk of a rise in the cost of renting a property for the self-same reason, demand outstripping ‘the market’s ability to supply.’

So, and in the proverbial nutshell here, you won’t see me either buying my own or even driving an electric car owned by someone else.

I am neither ready or even willing to leave the convenience of petrol or diesel fuel behind. Particularly if there is no compelling reason to do so.

On the contrary, as car makers the world over spend more and millions developing electric vehicles there’s going to be less money in the pot to build all-new V8 engines meaning that the current crop – of hi-tech V8 engines – think 1UZ Toyota, VH41 & 45 and VK56 from Nissan and even the LS series of lightweight modular V8s from General Motors as well as Ford’s hi-tech Coyote V8 – could well be the best ever.
So you know there’s a classic justification for seeking one out.

And what about rotaries? While most of the OG rotary-powered models (think RX2, RX3, RX4 and RX7) are all already well outside my own relatively modest price range, you can still buy 13B turbo engines ex-Japan for half decent money.

Then all I must do is hunt out a decent sort of RWD car here with a terminal engine and do a quick swap.

Ross MacKay is an award-winning journalist, author and publicist with first-hand experience of motorsport from a lifetime competing on two and four wheels. He currently combines contract media work with weekend Mountain Bike missions and trips to grassroots drift days.

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  1. Wylie

    As my current Petrol car can do 1000Km on 50 litres and if brought a newer one it also qualifies for the rebate will be sticking to it. Hopefully the much greener Hydrogen powered vehicles will be on the scene when it needs replacing.