In the Rearview Mirror: Driving Is Eternal

March 31, 2022

Hagerty Drivers Club Magazine
McKeel Hagerty

I get asked a lot about the future of driving. Will electric vehicles kill the driving experience? Will autonomous vehicles ruin our beloved car world? Will internal combustion engine vehicles someday be legislated off the road and into museums?

Let me answer each in turn:

Compared with gas cars, EVs are instantly torquey, and torque, my friends, is what makes cars fun. Some of us will miss engine noise, to be sure. But then I think about my beloved 1937 Packard. Its V-12 was designed to be nearly silent when running. The tires make more noise than the engine, like on an electric car. Personally, I’m all for the EV revolution for daily transportation, which will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is real and we can do our part. But trust me when I say that with your support, Hagerty will be here to protect the driving rights of thoughtful drivers of ICE vehicles for decades to come.

Autonomous vehicles won’t ruin the fun, either. They will enhance it by reducing the fatigue inherent to commuting—the average U.S. commute is about an hour a day round trip, and that’s without bad weather, accidents, or construction. Outside of the daily grind, people will be more inclined to drive traditional cars for fun, whether that means meandering the countryside or tearing it up at a track. Driving for fun is at the top of the driving pyramid. Commuting is at the bottom. Saving the four-hour commute on the 405 in Los Angeles isn’t what I mean when I say Hagerty is out to save driving. We’re in it to preserve the good stuff.

And ICE vehicles aren’t all headed to the Smithsonian, where we will nostalgically tell our bored grandkids, “See that Camaro? When I was a teenager, I did donuts in the Kroger parking lot in one just like that!” Analysts project that EVs could make up a quarter of new sales by 2035, but even so, only 13 percent of cars on the road would be electric, according to a New York Times analysis from last year. In “Electric Cars Are Coming—How Long Until They Rule the Road?” the Times asserts that, “Even in 2050, when electric vehicles are projected to make up 60 percent of new sales, the majority of vehicles on the road would still run on gasoline.”

That’s because older cars aren’t magically going to disappear. The average car on the road today is 12 years old. People are holding on to cars longer these days because they last longer and are more expensive to buy. Which, according to the Times, means each of the roughly 17 million gas-powered cars that Americans buy today can be expected to “stick around for 10 or 20 years as they are sold and resold in used car markets.”

In time, of course, things will change and EVs and AVs will rule the road. But even then, cars as we know them won’t disappear. The cool cars that we care about— Mustangs, Porsches, Miatas—will still be around and a blast to drive. No lawmaker is going to come for your vintage Corvette.

As cleaner vehicles become the norm, I predict there will be more interest in ICE cars, not less. The hobby won’t die. The Model T didn’t kill our interest in horses; it merely shifted it from work to play.

It will be the same for cars and driving. Both are eternal. Both will last. The good things always do. Onward and upward.