Electric Cars May Help Save the Planet, But the Morning News Thinks They're Rather Effete

As a rule, I never read the DMN's automotive section, which, in case you were wondering, is in fact a thing that exists. It's not just that the section is basically one long advertisement for vehicles I'm never going to buy or that Car Talk is infinitely better as a radio show than newspaper column. Rather, as a glance at my Toyota Corolla will tell you, it's because I don't give half a shit about cars.

Despite my studied avoidance, over the weekend I found myself not only in front of the automotive section but reading DMN car guy Terry Box's review of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

Like any decent newspaperman, Box gives you a clear picture of the article in the first sentence: "Electricity belongs in the kitchen, beating pancake batter into gooey submission."

Here, Box outs himself as an unapologetic shill for the griddle cakes industry who is outspokenly biased against non-pancake related uses of electricity, such as cars, lighting and defibrillators. Not the most objective person to be writing about electric vehicles, but at least he wears that fact on his sleeve, which we assume was knitted by diesel-powered sewing machine. Still, I maintained the assumption that the "not exactly sparkling" in the headline was a metaphor for performance rather than mere physical description.

As I read on, though, I became less sure.

Sure, Box writes, the iMiEV may get 126 miles per gallon and cost less than $30,000, and electric cars in general "may someday end our dependence on oil, reverse global warming and save the planet -- or something like that."

But they're just so European looking. And not the cool kind of Europe, either. The French kind.

... take a long look at the resolutely odd, all-electric 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, also known as the "i," and ask yourself a serious, possibly life-altering question:

What in blazes do you wear while driving a vehicle that looks like a cross between a tipsy French police car and a giant computer mouse -- a significant consideration in fashion-obsessed Dallas?

I suppose you could get one of those silly gendarme hats, but I have a better idea: Wear clothes. Normal ones. Pants and a shirt. Though if you accept that as the solution up front, you miss out on an always enjoyable occasion of mocking the French.

Box marches on in that vein for several more paragraphs.

When a silver i-MiEV arrived recently at the Daily Planet -- and that "MiEV" bit is an acronym for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle -- all I could do for the first 10 minutes or so was just stand and stare at the thing.

Pug-nosed with skinny tires pushed to its far corners, the i seemed tall, narrow and clumsy -- kind of a jumble of Euro-Asian styling elements.

Technically speaking, it ain't pretty.

The hood was a short, flat panel that abutted a huge, sloping windshield. The headlamps were shaped like large blisters.

The top curved slightly, plunging sharply at the rear into a flat hatchback. Tiny 175/60 tires on blocky 15-inch wheels looked as if they had been snatched from a wheelbarrow.

Box goes on to offer some legitimate critiques of its power, steering, and length of the charging cord, but it's clear that his main beef is with the car's looks. And he's right: The car looks stupid, like it's trying a little too hard to look sleek and efficient.

Then again, you'd think it might get a little more respect, considering that it might help save the planet. Or something like that.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson