Home » Why I’m Putting Away The Keys To My BMW i3s For A While To Enjoy My Gas Cars

Why I’m Putting Away The Keys To My BMW i3s For A While To Enjoy My Gas Cars

David Off Bmw I3 Ts
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The summer is upon us, and I have the keys to the most perfect BMW i3 on earth — the Holy Grail, a Galvanic Gold, Giga World-interior’d marvel from Leipzig. I also have the keys to my old 144,000 miles 2014 BMW i3 workhorse. But both of those keys are being hung up for much of this summer, because I want to enjoy my gas cars. Here’s why.

Gas prices in California are hovering around $5 a gallon, which is a lot, but sort of manageable. I remember in 2008 when the dollar was worth way more and gas prices were in the $4 range; things aren’t quite that bad in California, but they’re getting close. Look around the streets, even in nicer parts of town like Santa Monica where residents can afford a new EV, and you’ll see that most vehicles are still gasoline-powered.

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In fact, if you look at year-to-date sales of new vehicles in California, you’ll see that not quite 25 percent of cars sold in 2024 are zero-emissions vehicles (which includes EVs, PHEVs, and fuel-cell vehicles). You can see in this plot from the California Energy Commission that the Tesla Model Y has played a huge roll in cranking those figures up:

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Still, a quarter of all new sales doesn’t mean a quarter of cars on the road — in fact, based on a cursory web search, it seems like just around 5 percent of registered vehicles in California are electric. Yes, 19 out of 20 light-duty vehicles on the road in California burn some sort of fossil fuel.

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David Tracy Bmw I3 Grail Sized Poppin (1)

So the EV era has begun, but it’s not yet in full swing, and while I’ve been obsessing over BMW i3s for the past year or so (see above), I’ve come to the realization that I should enjoy my gas cars while I can. I’ve been driving all sorts of EVs for the past year or so — the new Cybertruck, the Lexus RZ, the Fisker Ocean, the Lotus Eletre — they’re awesome machines. Objectively superior to gasoline counterparts in so many ways. But there’s a similarity in the way they all behave — almost like driving a bunch of gas cars with the exact same engines. The torque curves and the sound feel exactly the same. And there are chassis similarities, too, with all EVs having their considerable heft between the axles, and all featuring fully independent suspension.

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There’s something exciting about hopping behind the wheel of a car like a front-engine, front-wheel drive, high-revving four cylinder car like a Honda Civic Type R and realizing: My god, this is so different than, say, a rear-drive flat-four Subaru BRZ or a rear-engine, flat-six Porsche 911 or a V8 E90 BMW M3. The engines — the way they sound, the way they make torque, their location (and thus weight distribution). The variety is awesome.

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I realize I’m probably preaching to the choir here, and that my “DT’s random Saturday thoughts” blog here is hardly profound, but it’s recently dawned on me: Why rush to driving EVs? I’ve got the rest of my life to drive those.

And while, sure, I don’t own a Civic Type R or a Porsche 911, I do own a 1966 Ford Mustang with a honkin’ V8 engine. I have a 1991 Jeep Wrangler with a torquey inline-six. I have an old truck with a straight six and a four-speed-on-the-floor. I’ve got a ZJ I’m working on — one with two coil-sprung solid axles that offer off-road articulation like no EV suspension ever has.

My point is that, there’s going to come a time when driving gas cars isn’t easy. That much is inevitable. When 100% of residents in certain neighborhoods drive EVs, they’ll begin to see gas cars driving through their neighborhoods as threats to their children’s health, and what argument can one make against that? You can’t. Gas cars will be banned from certain neighborhoods, and it’s inevitable.

 

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What’s more, on a more macro scale, I could see gas prices climbing, especially here in California, and more and more restrictions placed on these vehicles. In 30 years, it’s possible that driving gas cars in LA won’t be allowed. We’ve seen similar things in certain cities in Europe — it’s only a matter of time before our beloved ICE steeds are shunned by the masses, and our ability to enjoy them on public streets becomes throttled.

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It’s not going to happen anytime soon, but I’m 32 years old. It’s possible I won’t be able to drive my Jeep J10 freely and easily on public roads by the time I hit my twilight years. And here in California, it’s possible I’ll have a hard time piloting that old truck by the time I hit the big Five-Oh. So I’m going to enjoy these gas cars while I can. Gas stations are plentiful, fuel pricing is expensive but not insane yet, and because gas cars are in the majority, folks aren’t sneering at my fuel-burning machine, plotting for ways to keep it out of their neighborhood.

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I’m gonna listen to the burble of that Ford 289 V8; feel those crisp shifts just “snick” into place as I row through my J10 and Wrangler YJ’s manual transmissions; marvel at my ZJ’s incredibly well-spoken suspension (that’s a terrible play on the word “articulate”). These vehicles offer experiences that EVs just can’t, and while I think my BMW i3s are, objectively, my best cars, there’s really nothing “objective” about joy. And, while I still can, I’m going to wring every drop of that from my gas cars.

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2024 is my summer of stick shifts, smooth straight-six torque, and V8 grunt.

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CTSVmkeLS6
CTSVmkeLS6
9 days ago

Good call David and we are on an automobile enthusiast website so this is a good take. Enjoy the cars!

Dest
Dest
10 days ago

I want an ev, but I’m holding out some hope that alternative fuels will save the ice cars we love.

Goffo Sprezzatura
Goffo Sprezzatura
10 days ago

Do you carry liability coverage for the articles you write? ‘Cause I think I got whiplash from your abrupt change in direction here, lol. Anyways, have fun!

Drew
Drew
10 days ago

I’d like to thank the BMW naming conventions for allowing this headline to either reference the single i3s you recently purchased or both of your i3s.

Kurt Schladetzky
Kurt Schladetzky
11 days ago

I think we all should be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we sometimes do things that we know are harmful to the planet and to our fellow humans, just because we want to. Trying to rationalize it might make us feel a little better, but we’re still doing harm. Perhaps a better strategy would be to do as little harm as possible as often as possible. In other words, if you really want to take a cruise in your classic car, do it. If you are just trying to get from point A to point B, drive the EV.

AlterId
AlterId
11 days ago

Enjoy your summer of handing a can of starting fluid to the valet along with your keys, and don’t forget to tell them to lift up on the door to get it to latch right.

Ultradrive
Ultradrive
11 days ago
Reply to  AlterId

And that you’ve counted the pennies in the ashtray.

AlterId
AlterId
11 days ago
Reply to  Ultradrive

The pennies in the ashtrays of David’s pre-California cars are structural, so there’s a built-in theft deterrent and alert.

Slirt
Slirt
11 days ago

in today’s vernacular: you go, girl.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
11 days ago
Reply to  Slirt

Pretty sure it’s “YAASSS QUEEEEENNNN”, you go girl is more 00s

Amy Andersen
Amy Andersen
9 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Even that is getting a bit out of date I think, that’s more of a 10s expression.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
9 days ago
Reply to  Amy Andersen

Skidibi Rizzzzz, kingggg!!!!

Amy Andersen
Amy Andersen
8 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

that hurt to read lol

Davey
Davey
11 days ago

I love driving as much as anyone but damn, the price of gas sure does factor into how much I enjoy it now lol

Aaron C
Aaron C
11 days ago
Reply to  Davey

When my kid was 17 and had just started driving a lot (wow, almost 20 years ago now), I did my cursory “where you goin, and what are you doing,” as he had one foot out the door, just so I’d know. He mentioned a couple names, and I said, “you’re going to X’s house, right? Not just driving around?”

I’ll never forget his response – “Dad. Gas is $3.50 a gallon. No one is driving around.”

Gas had been in the $1-1.50 range from the ’90s all the way up to like 2003, so $3.50 was a real shock. When I was a kid in the ’80s, we never gave gas prices a second thought.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
10 days ago
Reply to  Aaron C

When gas went over a dollar, the stations in my podunk town had to get new signs that could handle the 3rd digit.

DONALD FOLEY
DONALD FOLEY
9 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

It was shocking.

Cerberus
Cerberus
11 days ago

I agree, though I don’t think EVs have to be characterless garbage, it’s just what they’re making (in fairness, most ICE vehicles today are also characterless garbage and built to the same disposable standards as the EVs). An EV drivetrain may not be able to match the character of ICE that have character (especially rare today), but the rest of the vehicle could be made to be serviceable, upgradeable, (necessary if EVs are to be truly better for the environment instead of population monitoring and control) and actually fun to drive if the market didn’t require 400 mile ranges or when the tech allows for lighter vehicles (which I won’t hold my breath for, not because the tech won’t happen, but because they are unlikely to build them significantly lighter in the name of safety and because, as people become accustomed to a lack of fun in driving, there will be too little demand). I really like my GR86, but not for the character of the engine (nor do I trust it, which goes for just about any engines built since the late 2010s as operating safety margins are squeezed ever tighter to make a little more hp and get a little more mileage while hitting tighter emissions in cars that are gaining weight and size), but for the relative lack of weight or added electronic garbage and nannies and the simple, robust chassis that communicates what’s going on with the tires, that it’s not another 2-box form factor, has 2 doors (after over 20 years without them, I forgot how much I really prefer 2 doors to 4), none of which has to be exclusive to ICE (there’s also the manual transmission that only does what I tell it and I don’t worry about the longevity of, but seeing as EVs tend not to need multiple gears to shift however it feels like or to fail, that’s effectively a wash, if not as engaging).

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
11 days ago

Another silly move by Tracy? Color me shocked! Seriously you should still drive your daily driver(s) since there is a reason they are called that.

Summer definitely is the season to drive the toys but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still drive your daily drivers when appropriate. I certainly pull out my toys more frequently in the spring and summer but for the daily commute the daily driver still does most of the heavy lifting while using less fuel and with less worries since it is much more repairable and replaceable.

MattyD
MattyD
11 days ago

Worry less, and drive whatever you feel like at any given time. And remember, quality over quantity.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
12 days ago

We just sold our EV for a Civic Si manual. The joy of driving is a real thing. We were only getting 92miles per charge on the EV and it was not working for any long trips. Yes we still have our very well insulated house and solar panels, so we are still trying to be a part of the solution, but David is correct that driving can be fun, and what we could really use is an EV with a generator, like an i3 or a Bolt, but in wagon form.

Aaron C
Aaron C
11 days ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

We just insulated our attic last year, got a heat pump dryer and induction stove, and went solar. In just over a year we have generated about 130% of our usage. We were projected to generate about 85% when we got the panels. I’m all-in on EV’s, but I am holding onto my JK Wrangler because I really don’t want to drive anything else, and since I’m WFH these days, what little I do drive I want to enjoy it. Will be getting an EV wagon for the family though once our ’19 Forester wears out. By that point, should be lots of options.

George Millwood
George Millwood
12 days ago

Amen

Aardvark775
Aardvark775
12 days ago

Sure; let’s trash the environment by burning fossil fuels while we still have an environment left to trash. Bring on Armageddon! Let’s get this shit over with!

Stoney got got (potentially)
Stoney got got (potentially)
12 days ago
Reply to  Aardvark775

“Trash” is doing a lot of the heavy lifting for a statement that includes a semicolon.

Don Mynack
Don Mynack
11 days ago
Reply to  Aardvark775

OK.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
11 days ago
Reply to  Aardvark775

Did you know that “carbon footprint” was an invention of the oil companies? Corporations want us fighting each other over personal vehicles while they do exponentially worse damage to the environment.

Some 218 cruise ships pollute more in one year than a billion cars, or 3.5x the number of cars in the United States. The U.S. military alone puts out more emissions than entire countries.

The sad fact is that David parking two range-extender EVs to drive some old cars this summer isn’t even going to make a mark. But that is what the corporations want. They want us to punish ourselves and each other so they can continue giving the planet the middle finger.

I’ve long been an advocate of pointing the environmentalism cannon at the correct parties, and it should be at corporations and governments, not each other. 🙂

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/aug/23/big-oil-coined-carbon-footprints-to-blame-us-for-their-greed-keep-them-on-the-hook

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2024/01/military-emissions-climate-cop28/677151/

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/cruise-ships-europe-emissions-pollution-b2358009.html

Davedave
Davedave
11 days ago

“Some 218 cruise ships pollute more in one year than a billion cars, or 3.5x the number of cars in the United States”

This is drivel, in this context. Sulphur emissions out at sea aren’t an issue when it comes to climate change. CO2 emissions from the billion cars definitely are.

The Guardian putting a conspiratorial slant on a pretty obvious fact is nothing suprising, either. Blaming the people providing something rather than the people using it is idiotic. Oil companies aren’t to blame for CO2 emissions – except insofar as they actually burn fossil fuels; people who burn the oil they sell are.

And yes, the US military uses huge amounts of fossil fuels. They should stop that too.

We each have a role to play. Whataboutery in the name of climate science denial is idiotic nonsense.

Last edited 11 days ago by Davedave
Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
11 days ago
Reply to  Davedave

To be clear, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t do their best to take care of the environment. My point is that David’s choice to drive a couple of gas cars a few thousand miles isn’t going to make a meaningful difference when everything else is as bad as it is.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 days ago

Straw, meet camel. David is one straw out of billions but they all add up.

Plus that Mustang and old truck have no or negligible emissions controls so they’re extra sinful.

Stoney got got (potentially)
Stoney got got (potentially)
11 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

If it weren’t for the fact that DT is a solid dude/big heart/nice guy, not a chance I’m responding and asking you to reconsider what you just wrote.

You are equivocating driving a Mustang as a sin? I know you comment a lot, so I am gonna be polite here.

Look at your socks. Look at them. Consider the purchase location and mental mindset you were in when you bought them. Are you sure they were ethically sourced and made in such a humanitarian way as to cause no harm to the planet, and that everything you have done in those socks have never harmed another individual?

Your socks. Or, your toothpaste. Has that lab ever emitted any plastic?

And yet, you wanna hang tight to a position that driving a classic Mustang is somehow the problem?

Guy. No.

Just think about it when you get off and put it in the stable.

Peace, love, and all that. 🙂

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 days ago

That is wrong. The sin being spoken of here comes with the USE of the item, not it’s manufacture.

When I use my socks I cause no harm to the environment. They use no fossil fuels and emit nothing to keep my feet warm and cushy soft, in fact they reduce FF use by keeping me comfortable at lower temps and away from the thermostat.

An old Mustang OTOH uses gallons of gasoline every time its used in its intended manner, turning maybe 15-20% of that energy into useable mechanical power. Quite a bit more of that fuel leaves the tailpipe unburned as well as making relatively high amount of NOx and a lot more CO2 compared to the i3. My socks generate no CO2/HC/NOx emissions when used as intended.

The Mustang also needs considerably more maintainence than my socks. Where do you think new spare parts come from now? Just a battery or a set of tires for that Mustang is going to use more questionable labor and generate more emissions than any pair of socks ever.

Now if you insist on the manufacturing, some of my socks are made from recycled materials, other socks from wool, cotton and all knit by machine so not a lot whole lot of sin in the making of those either.

Stoney got got (potentially)
Stoney got got (potentially)
11 days ago
Reply to  Davedave

Carbon Dioxide is bad? Oh boy, are we in trouble.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 days ago

I think it’s worth pointing out corporations don’t take cruises, regular people do. Those cruises are also 100% superfluous vacations. Nobody is required to go on a cruise. If regular people stopped taking cruises then cruise ships wouldn’t exist. That almost happened during the pandemic but as soon as the pandemic ended regular people swarmed back aboard. So regular people who go on cruises are 100% to blame for those emissions.

Those ships could – theoretically – be nuclear powered thus eliminating the emissions stigma. That would however I think be cost prohibitive until China starts cranking out lower cost civilian tankers and cargo ships to compete with oilers and hopefully that tech will trickle down to cruise ships too.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
10 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Yeah, I will admit to screwing up, having a bad take, or whatever you call that comment. Maybe I should take my own advice and think two or three times before saying something. I’ll take my well-deserved L.

You and everyone else are right that it’s not only the corporations to blame for climate change. Indeed, cruises are totally superfluous and on the people who take them.

I guess what got me was the idea of David driving a few old cars a few thousand miles equating to trashing the environment. On second thought, maybe that is the truth and if so, I guess this site’s unapologetic pro-car stance is not helping…

On subject, nuke powered civilian ships would be interesting! I mean, the NS Savannah was an interesting effort, but that was a long time ago.

Last edited 10 days ago by Mercedes Streeter
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 days ago

The Russians have had a few civilian nuclear ships for a while now, mostly icebreakers but also a small fleet of arctic merchant cargo ships. Now China is getting in on the action so it may not be too long before nuclear powered container/tanker/power plant and maybe, just maybe cruse ships will be coming to a port near(ish) you:

https://gcaptain.com/nuclear-powered-24000-teu-containership-china/

https://shipandbunker.com/news/world/881026-core-power-expects-first-maritime-nuclear-orders-before-2030

Regarding the Savannah its worth keeping in mind that was never intended to make a buck, rather just be a proof of concept.

Last edited 10 days ago by Cheap Bastard
Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
9 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Oh yes, I forgot about those Russian icebreakers and merchant ships! But yeah, nuke cruise ships would be pretty awesome

Regarding the Savannah its worth keeping in mind that was never intended to make a buck, rather just be a proof of concept.

Of course! Still, the Savannah was pretty neat, I think

PlugInPA
PlugInPA
10 days ago

I guess when even Mercedes is parroting this right-wing nonsense equating any kind of pollution to CO2, it’s time to be done here for a while.

My 0.02 Cents
My 0.02 Cents
10 days ago
Reply to  PlugInPA

I’ve got my wings confused, I’m pretty sure that is the left wing stance that got repeated. maybe not. Maybe it was a bit of both?
As I have neither wings I’ll never fly, that I am sure of.
Just to clarify, left wing = EV good, climate change bad.
Ring wing = EV’s are from Satan and what’s climate change.

That’s probably the extreme on both sides

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
10 days ago
Reply to  PlugInPA

Don’t leave because I said something stupid. Even I’m capable of having a bad take and, well, there you go. I could delete the comment, but I like to own my mistakes so I can learn from them. In hindsight, Aardvark’s comment was right, if a little harsh.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
9 days ago

At least you didn’t try claiming that timing belts automatically make a car unreliable.

Harmanx
Harmanx
11 days ago
Reply to  Aardvark775

My thoughts reading this also, Aardvark.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
12 days ago

I think that’s really the main emotional appeal of ICE cars. Every drivetrain has their own character that offers a different experience.

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