There are petrol heads and then there are petrol heads.
The frequently consulted Urban Dictionary informs me that the term is defined as: "someone who is totally obsessed with motor vehicles".
Yet I know people who are not only obsessed, they are infatuated. Perhaps they are rev-heads.
Blockies have hero status in Launceston and are often written about in this newspaper, complemented by regular online commentary.
Locals spend a small fortune purchasing the latest model of their favourite make or modifying their first or eighth car to improve performance and appearance.
It is a labour of love and a dead-set certainty to utilise every disposable dollar of your hard earned.
But things are changing - rapidly.
An electric car has been added to the fleet at my workplace and it will not be the last. How would that look in the Bathurst Street car park?
And In the future what on earth will we call people obsessed with electric vehicles? And how on earth will they churn up the blockie circuit when we cannot even hear them coming?
When thinking of fully electric motor vehicles, the Tesla comes to mind.
Nevertheless, there are now far more options with most major car manufacturers adding electric and hybrid vehicles to their stables.
My first consideration when test driving a car is kilowatts; the power an engine can produce or for enthusiasts; the capacity of an engine to turn fossil fuel into movement.
Kilowatts is important because the higher the rate, the more power you can call upon when encountering the many challenges that those who frequently cruise our highways face.
Therefore, when sliding into the driver's seat of a small fully electric vehicle with only 100kW of power, I was skeptical to say the least.
With a range of about 300 kilometres when fully charged, our new stablemate is very comfortable and has surprising get up and go.
It is slightly heavy in the steering and it takes a while to acclimatise to instant deceleration, but they are both adjustable. Additionally, for long drives, the low profile did not suit my ageing body.
For my family, it has always been motorbikes. Pictures and discussions and books and museum visits trying to find a BSA Road Rocket or a cherished BSA Gold Star, ag bikes, superbikes, 500cc, and MotoGP, it is rare when family conversations do not involve thoughts of two-wheels.
My interest in electric vehicles has recently been stirred by Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor and best mate Charlie Boorman's third long way series. This time Long Way Up: a 21,000 kilometre, 100-day adventure from South to North America on fully electric Harley Davidsons.
The Livewires were relatively untested prototypes and charging stations through South America were sparse with consistent electricity supply difficult to locate. However, with the support of world leading mechanics and technicians they were able to make it work.
Across Tasmania there are now nine fast charging stations together with several wall socketed locations for a few different brands. And I observed two fully electric luxury vehicles in Launceston just last week.
It will not be long before we are comparing the price of diesel or unleaded fuel against the price of a kW of charge.
When watching the Bathurst 1000 motor race recently, Master 11 and I contemplated how long it will take before the great race only involves electric vehicles.
That may seem a ridiculous or to some even a sacrilegious proposition.
However, with Holden no longer producing cars in Australia and the Chevrolet Camaro likely to fill the void to dual with the Ford Mustang, these world leading companies will not be left behind in the world of electric.
Battery technology continues to improve. Once upon a time builders and tradespeople relied upon generators and gas fired tools along with the generosity of neighbours to build new homes.
Fast forward to 2020 and 18-volt technology has well and truly taken over with all manner of tools powered by batteries.
Further, families who require equipment for small jobs around the house are now faced with the opportunity to choose between two and four stroke petrol power versus battery powered appliances such as chainsaws and whipper snippers and hedge trimmers.
To highlight, on a recent camping trip with friends I was introduced to my first battery powered chainsaw to cut a few rounds for the evening fire pit. To put it plainly, we will not purchase a petrol-powered chainsaw again.
The battery chainsaw was relatively light, highly reliable, and capable of cutting large hardwood logs in a river jam. Obviously, for professional or larger jobs or to tow the caravan, running dry or trying to charge batteries in the bush is not ideal nor practical yet this will improve year on year.
For petrol heads and rev heads alike of the Launceston blockie scene I am apprehensive to tell you, but one day the term "fully charged" may refer to those who take great pride in the efficiency and performance generated by batteries "amped" with renewable energy.
- Brian Wightman is a former Tasmanian Attorney-General and school principal.
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