Home » A Huge Thing Holding Back Electric Cars Is A Lack Of Knowledge: COTD

A Huge Thing Holding Back Electric Cars Is A Lack Of Knowledge: COTD

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This morning, Editor-At-Large Patrick George wrote about the alleged dip in EV demand in his article “My Theory Of Why Electric Vehicle Demand Is ‘Dropping’ Suddenly.” Some media outlets had been pondering: “Do people just not like EVs?” Patrick, who doesn’t agree with that, broke down all the issues holding back EVs: high MSRPs, insufficient infrastructure, high interest rates, among others. I almost threw an editor’s note in there about the layperson’s lack of EV knowledge being a major factor, but for whatever reason decided not to. Good thing we have reader Duke of Kent, who hopped into the comments to include that important note.

See, here was the short knowledge gap-related discussion during the editing of Patrick’s blog:

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And here’s a look at Duke of Kent’s full comment:

I read about EVs here, and I remain curious about them. I think I am somewhat representative of the average person in that regard — not an EV evangelist who believes electric cars can do no wrong nor an EV hater. I would be open to an EV to replace my current car when the time comes (I am not currently car shopping, and there doesn’t seem to be much on the new market that appeals to me anyway.), but there are a lot of things that I just don’t understand about them and how they’d fit in my specific situation.

I have a standard 110V outlet in my garage, and I know that doesn’t do much to charge a car… but I also don’t drive very far (most days are <25 miles, and I’ve never driven more than 100 miles in a single day), so if I can squeeze out that much charge overnight, that might be all I need. If that’s the case, then I don’t care about public charging infrastructure, and I would enjoy never having to stop at a gas station to fuel up again. I don’t know much about home electricity, so I could probably hire an electrician to put in 220V there, but I don’t know what it takes to get DC or if that would even be practical in my situation (I live in a townhouse), and I’m not sure what that would cost.

I am easy on my cars, driving less than 4,000 miles per year and ensuring maintenance is done regularly. As such, my cars last a long time. I still fear battery degradation over a long period of time even though I’m told that EV batteries work differently than batteries in other electronics. What happens to EVs as they age? I’d be quite disappointed, for example, if I had David’s i3 with its toasted battery without California’s interesting replacement program — especially after having dropped a ton of money on the car to begin with.

And speaking of the price, that’s the elephant in the room. The $60k average is definitely eye-catching, but I also understand that it’s possible to skew numbers like that. A straight average (mean) could easily be affected by a few very expensive options. I wonder what the median EV price is — or even the median adjusted for units sold. I don’t want to spend $60k on a car — especially if that car comes with limitations, but I don’t mind spending a bit for quality.

I realize that my situation is unique, but that’s kind of the point. Everyone’s situation is unique, especially when we’re talking about an only car. Someone who uses an EV as a second car can accept some limitations or compromises because the other car can pick up the slack, but when it’s your only one, it’s got to be able to do it all all the time. The very early adopters jumped on EVs as second cars; then secondary early adopters picked up EVs as their only cars. EVs haven’t been on the market for too terribly long, so these early and sorta-early adopters don’t need to replace their cars yet. That leaves “everybody else”. People are comfortable with what they’re used to. Some might be interested in doing the research on how to fit an EV into their lives, but the path of least resistance is to just go with what you’re used to, and that’s ICE.

Thank you Duke of Kent for your great input! We’re grateful that you’re here to read, and even more grateful that you’re here to contribute in the comments!

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MDMK
MDMK
11 months ago

EVs would definitely be an adjustment for me. My current non-hybrid sedan is fuel efficient with 550+ miles of range and I only think about fuel once every two weeks or when my estimated range is down to near 100 miles. I also have the freedom to stop wherever and whenever I want without having to think about topping off my range.

I’m sure I would adjust though, as I have an enclosed garage and could simply get into the critical habit of plugging in whenever I park to ensure enough range at all times. However that creates other potential problems like charging port vs. chargepoint location, sharing of chargepoints in multi-EV households, and potential cord trip hazards. Also keep in mind people’s garages tend to be full of crap, forcing them to park their cars outside.

Rexracer
Rexracer
11 months ago
Reply to  MDMK

Yes, I agree the biggest deterrent to owning an EV is the trip hazard from the charging cord….

But not sure what the problem with parking their car outside has to do with EVs, you know people can charge them outside right? Been doing it for 10 years, 0 issues…

James Milton
James Milton
11 months ago

Simply put: aside from us gearheads, the vast majority of drivers are cars-as-appliances people. EVs are strange, exotic and expensive. The 1% can be early adopters with Teslas, Lucids, Fiskers and Rivians(I want one badly), but the vast majority want something practical that the don’t have to think about.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
11 months ago

Here’s MY question. What about the marginal almost homeless people who end up living in their car? They’re not going to be spending on a BMW i3. What are our societal plans for dealing with Weird Bob who lives down by the river in a van with four mismatched tires?

Who honestly thinks we are going to get people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the grid, and in electric vehicles, when we can’t even stop the warlords from genocide and forced child labor in clandestine cobalt mines?

When are we going to realize that a few million cars in the West don’t mean a hill of beans, if the People’s Republic of China keeps building more and more bituminous coal fired power plants?

What taxes are we going to increase, so that, even in America where we can do it, we will have the capital to build out the grid infrastructure to support EVs?

The whole of the automotive world seems beset by a frankly unrealistic Pollyanna mentality. It bogles the mind.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
11 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

Seriously? The Congo? What do you think they contribute to the globe in Carbon Footprint? Homeless people? How any people are living in cars as a percentage of licensed vehicles?

This falls under the whole “just asking questions” except the questions are non-serious.

EVs are here because we need to reduce carbon emissions from the overwhelming majority of vehicles in the worlds largest automotive markets.

Aaron Vienot
Aaron Vienot
11 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

What about the Chinese energy problem? That was the largest salient point in his question.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
11 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

Seriously, Pollyanna. The Congo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9jscWk2DMg

Do you think that carbon dioxide is the only type of pollution degrading our planet? Are you so comfortable, in your air conditioned home, half a world away, that you don’t care about modern day slavery in the DRC cobalt mines? Is your ignorance of the fact that the leveling of rainforests, which recycle that CO2, for open pit cobalt mines, and thus actually works against your stated aim, part of the real problem?

And homeless people. It’s uncomfortable to think about them too, huh? Questions regarding how mandating EVs affects that portion of the population OF YOUR OWN COUNTRY are, somehow, ‘non-serious’.

Clearly, in your mind, the only ‘serious-question’ is ‘How does this affect me?’ For you, ignoring the marginalized is the ‘serious’ approach.

Wow. Just wow.

Last edited 11 months ago by Doctor Nine
Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

Homeless people are greatly undercounted in the USA. The most recent estimate I’ve heard is that there are 610,000 in the USA. But for every homeless person counted, I think there are easily 2 or more that aren’t counted.

I’ve been homeless before and seen some things. The mainstream news presents a biased or even outright fictitious picture of what these people go through.

Fair point about someone living in a van down by the river. They won’t have a place to charge. However, an electric van converted into a stealth camper with the entire roof covered in a 1.5 kW solar panel array would be a Godsend to someone who doesn’t need to drive long distances every day. They could get enough power to run all of their appliances, maybe even heating/AC, and still have enough left over to move the vehicle 5-10 miles a day, without having to pay anyone anything. EVs have less components to ail than ICE. A van built with a robust LiFePO4 battery could last a VERY long time with minimal maintenance.

Once I get my custom electric “bicycle”/microcar finished, I plan to add solar to it, and use it for long distance touring. I’d be living out of it in that case.

As for the slave labor used to build EVs, this is all the more reason that instead of trucks/SUVs/CUVs with monster 100+ kWh battery packs, we need sedans/hatchbacks/sports cars with 25-30 kWh packs that are aerodynamically streamlined to get 200+ miles range on those small packs. Build costs would go down because of the reduced parts cost. The monster 220 kWh pack used in one 400-mile-range Silverado EV could build EIGHT 200-mile-range streamliner sedans. Further, the vehicles need to be designed to where mechanics can have access to the internal workings of the battery/motor/inverter/BMS/charger for repairs, as well as open source software, so that the cars don’t become landfill fodder when a minor but necessary component fails. Parts should be as plug-and-play as possible. EV drive systems offer the potential to make a car that lasts a human lifetime with 7-figure-mileage lifespans, and the way EVs are currently designed with proprietary software and inaccessible components with batteries that act as load-bearing members of the chassis makes them unrepairable landfill fodder when something fails, when they should/could be repairable with basic tools and should be kept on the road for as long as possible in order to minimize the environmental footprint per mile of travel as well as eventually foster a market for used EVs(since most automobile drivers operate used vehicles anyway).

The problem today is the way cars are designed, EV or ICE. It’s all about maximizing the amount of money people spend, and this is totally at odds with the environmental mission statement of EVs and reducing greenhouse gas output and other pollution, as well as at odds with concepts such as conservation of resources. Modern cars are built to be crushed, not repaired. Planned obsolescence is a problem that needs to be done away with.

I’m well aware of what is possible. I have an electric Triumph GT6 conversion that, once finished with aerodynamic work, might only need 120 Wh/mile to cruise on the interstate at flow of traffic speeds, and I also built from scratch a one-seater microcar that cruises 30-35 mph in the city using only 8-10 Wh/mile, and once upgraded with a more aerodynamic body, may only need 20 Wh/mile to cruise on the interstate. Compare to a Tesla Model S that uses about 250 Wh/mile, or a Silverado EV that will use about 500 Wh/mile.

Everything is too damned bloated, expensive, wasteful, and destined for a landfill. We can do better than this…

Last edited 11 months ago by Toecutter
Hoonicus
Hoonicus
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I think you know we agree on a lot of these points, and I genuinely applaud the work you’ve accomplished. We definitely need to keep banging the drum on the right to repair, and put a stop to the planned obsolescence madness on so many products. As much as i enjoy light weight nimble vehicles, many, myself included, are not comfortable mixing them with this is my road SUVs.

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
11 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

The point is that BEVs only work as niche for upper middle class people. The charging can’t possibly scale to serve every driver on the road. Even half seems impossible.
And the point about China is that cars are always the first target of emissions complaints, but are actually a ways down on the list.

Lokki
Lokki
11 months ago

My question on EV’s is what the used market is going to look like. It’s not really relevant to the discussion here, but that’s not going to stop me from bring it up.

The life of a new car (yeah, I’m painting with a generalized brush here) is first buyer or leaser for ? 3-5 ? years; second buyer for ? 5-6 ? years; third buyer till it dies. I think that the third buyer market is not going to be very good for EV’s. That market is mainly lower income and also contains a lot of renters.

David got lucky on his battery, but that’s man-bites-dog-story rare. Most low income buyers won’t want to gamble on a 10-12 year old EV knowing that “the $10,000 battery of Damocles” is dangling by a charging cord. When will it die?
Then, what about electrical circuit/software problems? You can’t just ignore them keep on driving like in a beat-up Chevy. The old “runs bad longer than most cars run at all” meme doesn’t apply to EV’s. You pay to fix it or you park it…till the finance people tow it away.

Finally there’s the fact that that charging cord is running out to the car through the apartment window isn’t practical for a lot of people (And if Freakin’ Freddy unplugs my car and plugs his in to my juice again I’m gonna put a cap in his ass).

So I don’t think that the “very used” market will be very good, and this will have a blow-back into the “used” market because of steeper depreciation than second buyers are used to seeing when they sell. Traditionally it’s been the first buyer who takes a big hit, but I suspect that the second buyer will too when they go to sell.

I’m not sure of this, but I would be curious to see what others think.

Last edited 11 months ago by Lokki
SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
11 months ago

#1) EVs and plug in hybrids are often SUV or crossover vehicles. Often pretty pricey. Not my thing.
#2) I have too many smart devices which suddenly stop working for no known reason, or smart devices which lose significant performance after a ‘required update’. I rely on my car too much to have it randomly brick on me.
I am not paranoid, Microsoft made too much money using designed obsolecence as a business model. The world took notice.
#3) EVs are not necessarily good for the environment when lithium mining and electronics disposal are considered. Those pollutants have just been temporarily offshored.
#4) Oddly-enough, I think hybrids are a great alternative.

Ryanola
Ryanola
11 months ago

Just bought the alternative to DT’s i3, the Mercedes BED, no range extender, 80 or so miles of range, $13K for the whole car. One item, you must get a 220v outlet, level 1 charging from regular outlet will not suffice for anyone. I love not going to gas stations, have solar which makes too much power, so driving for ‘free’, rather than selling my excess power back at end of year for $.038 per kWh. Live in a mild climate, so never need to deal with extreme cold that theoretically could halve battery range.

Who Knows
Who Knows
11 months ago

Lack of education is indeed huge. Seeing the generally bad level of understanding of EVs on websites such as this, or SAE forums has demonstrated that even many people interested in cars are quite lacking in understanding, set in their ways, uninterested to learn, and the general population will be even worse. I’m not sure that most people will actually understand things though, even with all of the information provided. Personally, just trying to explain the differences between L1, L2, and L3 charging to anyone without a technical background is quite difficult, and anything that involves basic math is usually face palm material.

As far as the original post in this article, most people can simply use the L1 charger that comes with a car with a standard outlet. It’s pretty easy to add 10-12 kWh overnight, which with some simple math gives decent rough range estimates:

car: ~4 miles/kWh, 40-50 miles
CUV: ~3 miles/kWh, 30-35 miles
truck: ~2 miles/kWh, 20-25 miles

Just one example of something that is really quite simple, but is a huge question mark for probably just about anyone without the experience of actually owning an EV.

GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
11 months ago

One could argue that a lack of knowledge also sells the majority of current EVs.

Do wealthy Licid buyers know that, at one point, “Bob from accounting” was installing Amazon-purchased parts on the assembly line for a 100k sedan?

No way.

Everyone who pre-ordered a Vinfast falls right into this category as well.

The same can be said for all the things no one really knows about. Like what all these “I can’t believe it’s not vaporware” models will be like in 10 years. Outside the Leaf and Bolt, the pre-owned EV market is a mystery.

When I spend a lot of money, I do not like mysteries. I even wait years before I buy a newer generation ICE model.

SuperNova
SuperNova
11 months ago

I drive every day from the country to the city, 48kms to work then 48kms home. I can’t charge at work and there are no charging stations near my work or even on the way home. At home I could charge with a 120v domestic plug. If I don’t drive to work I enjoy towing my trailer to camp about 8 hours away or I road trip to see friends 1200kms from my home. (I can do that drive in 11.5 hours) or I go shopping 40 kms away from my home in the evening after work. For me, and the 60,000 people in my area that pretty much do the same thing…we use petrol. I’m not anti EV but they don’t fit our lives. Unfortunately the EV market is building vehicles to convince me that I can replace my Nissan Frontier with an electric truck worth twice the price.

Meanwhile they should just be concentrating on short distance lightweight commuter vehicles and balance out the needs at large.

Convince me that I can do better than commuting with a 1.6L micra and using my Nissan Frontier on week ends.

On a side note…I live in Ontario Canada where electricity is distributed by the government and is subsidized to maintain affordability through taxes. I’m already paying a surplus to fund the fuel going into EVs and battery plants.

If we had just stopped buying gas guzzlers and revised standards to lighten vehicles…we would be fine. Instead we increased average fuel consumption to levels that are higher than in 1979.

Convince me that the EV is better.

Jason Mason
Jason Mason
11 months ago
Reply to  SuperNova

But nobody is saying an EV is the right choice for everyone under every circumstance.

GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
11 months ago
Reply to  Jason Mason

Except all the people in political and industrial power who intend to ban every vehicle that isn’t an EV.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
11 months ago
Reply to  GhosnInABox

Yes, in the future when the technology is well advanced from where it is right now.

GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
11 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

It took the internal combustion engine over a 100 years to get where it is right now.

The government didn’t announce a ban on the horse and carriage (an arguably inhumane and dangerous form of transport) during the car’s infancy, it let the market transition over time.

Many people still own horses. There will never be a good or fair time to ban.

Jason Mason
Jason Mason
11 months ago
Reply to  GhosnInABox

Some, not all, and in areas where there is supposedly sufficient infrastructure to support it. In OP’s rural situation that would be impossible to implement.

ElmerTheAmish
ElmerTheAmish
11 months ago
Reply to  SuperNova

The EV is better. For me.

My current commute to work is 20 miles round trip, and is about to drop to 12. After work, and on the weekends, I’ll run around the city, maybe adding 20 miles here, 40 miles there. My wife works from home, so puts even fewer miles on her car. On an average of once a month, we take long weekend trips, somewhere around 350-400 miles round trip. With a little clever planning, we could buy one EV with our next car purchase, and use it for 80-90% of all our commuting needs; we’d keep one of our ICE vehicles for travel, at least for now. A BEV would probably save us money, if we could buy one at the lower end of the pricing availability.

For your use case, and being what sounds like a 1-car household, an EV doesn’t work for you. And even though governments around the world don’t agree, that’s OK! The tech hasn’t gotten there yet; I’m hoping it will.

Your Frontier is a horrible choice for me and my usage. I don’t haul or tow anything, and I don’t want the daily ride penalty a truck gives for the few times I might tow/haul. I don’t need the extra space a truck bed allows. That doesn’t mean a pickup isn’t the right choice for you.

We’re so early still in the BEV world. Hell, there isn’t even agreement that BEVs are truly THE way forward. There is still so much work to be done in this realm to get us there, but I think the one thing most can agree on is that the work needs to be done! We cannot continue burning petrol at the rate we are. There can be discussions on how to move forward, but we can’t stand still any more.

Your “stepping stone” vehicle really isn’t out there (yet). It sounds like you could do well with a PHEV mid-size pickup. Maybe (hopefully!) Toyota will give you an option soon. Hopefully there are more to follow, at least until we get our post-petrol world figured out.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
11 months ago
Reply to  SuperNova

My Chevrolet Bolt could be your daily driver on a 120v outlet.

Convince me your ICE is better at not melting the ice caps. Pay attention to the news. We are past the point of what is good for YOU and moving on to the point of what is good for US.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
11 months ago

My brother had a used Tesla Model S for a while, living in a rental house similar to Duke of Kent and charging off regular household outlets barely dribbled him enough power to get through his short daily commute and he still had to visit a charger every 1-2 weeks. We visited him for a weekend and he let us drive the car while he worked and we were both pretty sold on the idea of EVs (and I was a real Tesla skeptic too), until twice in a 4 day long weekend we had to visit the Tesla dealer-next to the freeway-next door to an abondoned strip mall and chill for an hour while it charged so we could drive up to the lake and that kinda killed it for us. My fiance is replacing her car sooner than later (a 2005 Pontiac Vibe lol) and she really liked the idea of an EV but even if we could afford one, we don’t live somewhere we could charge it every night and not sure when we will, and even if we do buy a house sooner than later by all accounts it’s at least $5K to get a high enough amperage service and a 220v outlet all set up on an old house-and that’s if it has a driveway and garage-many of them don’t. EVs still have a massive chicken and egg problem-and once you factor in high prices it’s easy to see why demand has flattened.

Jason Mason
Jason Mason
11 months ago

A supercharger would have fully charged a near-dead Tesla in around 25 min so you must have been using a level 2 charger, FYI (for the next time!).

GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
11 months ago

I would buy a 2005 Pontiac Vibe EV restomod in second.

12 Point Socket
12 Point Socket
11 months ago

Since a lot of manufacturers are switching to NACS charging in the future why not wait 1-2 year and skip the hassle of an adapter to charge. I think the value of a used EV without a NACS plug will be lower in the future than a comparable EV with NACS plug.

Robert L
Robert L
11 months ago

I think the value of a used EV without a NACS plug will be lower in the future than a comparable EV with NACS plug.

Probably but if the only difference is a ~$200 adapter then the discounts on a CCS car aren’t going to be very large. If the adapter lets you get plug and charge functionality then the extra nuisance is negligible.

12 Point Socket
12 Point Socket
11 months ago
Reply to  Robert L

Makes sense but I have switched phones over a $5 charging cable. Sometimes convenience is worth more than the price of a cable or adapter.

Robert L
Robert L
11 months ago

Oh for sure but most people are home charging anyways. If they are presented with a CCS car and a NACS car that is functionally identical then it’d be very difficult to justify spending a much larger amount on the NACS car.

Maybe I can justify it to the tune of $500 but that would be about it.

GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
11 months ago
Reply to  Robert L

I wonder what the planned obsolescence of charging port styles will be from gen to gen. My guess is they will get greedy as all get out and change it completely at least every 5 years for the next 20 years.

The fantastic Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” has a great scene about the consequences of this.

Zach Gilbert
Zach Gilbert
11 months ago

I agree with Jason. I’m still waiting for Buc-ee’s to become more nationwide, and all of them having rows among rows of electric chargers. I mean… I spend 15 – 30 minutes in the store ordering brisket and buying cheap Hawaiian shirts, I might as well be charging my car at the same time.

Jason Mason
Jason Mason
11 months ago
Reply to  Zach Gilbert

You forgot the jerky mate, it’s all about the jerky!

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
11 months ago

Lest we forget the amount if people renting that cant install 220 power, dont even have 110, or lack even a place to park. Charging at home isnt always an option, unless we run 60ft of extension cord out the 2nd story window.

World24
World24
11 months ago

Exactly how I feel. I have to park in public parking lots since I still live at home with my parents (4-digit student loan payments when you make low 4 digits a month makes it kind of tough to move out tbh) in the middle of a town where their “driveway” is only big enough for 2 vehicles. For my commute, an EV with L1 charging will pretty much be at 100% most of the time. It’s a 3.4-mile daily journey to work every day 5/6 times a week, then add on maybe an extra 4/5 miles to go grocery shopping every week?
If things were different, I’d probably have a Leaf.

Der Foo
Der Foo
11 months ago

When you think about it, if you can afford an EV that costs between $60K and north of $100K, then you should be able to afford public charging. If you cannot afford public charging, maybe an EV isn’t financially wise for you at this point.

I know this is maybe an unpopular opinion and shows my lack of financial group thinking popular today, but sometimes numbers should be used over wants.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Der Foo

I don’t think its the cost of the public charging, but the inconvenience.

Charging at home is like 80% of the appeal of an EV to most people.

GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
11 months ago

If you ask any US legislator or automotive executive, you’ll get a response in the neighborhood of “that’s their fault for being poor”.

No one in power cares about the housing crisis because over 60% of Americans bought homes and 36% rent from places bought by wealthy management companies.

Same goes for cars. The majority of people own garages (most too small to fit an American EV funny enough).

Companies can’t resist the upsell of making a homeowner essentially buy their own mini gas station. They can’t do that if public charging is widely available.

People don’t need an education on EVs because they already have a poor grasp on how ICE engines work to begin with.

If you stop scamming them, they will come.

J Money
J Money
11 months ago

In my opinion, it’s mainly the high cost of entry, the limitations where you often feel like you need a second car that is traditional ICE and the fact that automakers are making these things too big and Americanized. Do we need a 10000 lb Hummer EV? Sure, it’s got some neat party tricks but man, it’s about as stupid as it gets when you’re looking for efficiency.

People bought Corollas forever because they were cheap (to buy and maintain), great on gas, reliable and easy to commute in and park, etc. Make EVs that hit those marks and you’d have the new Corolla. But the auto industry is built on asinine margins. Why are there no sedans anymore? Because people think they need trucks and trucks have massive profit margins. So we’re now modeling the EV future on the recent past of SUVs and full size pickups. Dumb.

GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
11 months ago
Reply to  J Money

EPA should have implemented much stricter vehicle size and weight restrictions when gas-guzzlers were unpopular (1970’s and Obama-era aughts). No normal human being needs a vehicle bigger than a BMW X1.

Automakers never self-regulate. Ever.

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