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Electric Cars Are Creating a New Kind of Car Enthusiast

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author photo by Eric Brandt April 2018

The car enthusiast is constantly evolving. Every new automotive era brings with it new tastes, new trends and new ways to just have a good time with a few wheels and an engine. But there's one emerging brand of car enthusiasts that's particularly interesting to me, mainly because they're people who would never normally care about cars.

I'm talking about people who are really into electric cars. I'm not just talking about Tesla fanboys, although they certainly fall into this category. I'm talking about the nerds who have never cared about cars, who never knew anything about cars, who never even really cared what kind of car they drove themselves. Many of these people are now very much enthusiastic about cars powered by electrons rather than (or in addition to) gasoline.

I have a group chat going with a few friends because, well, that's just how groups of friends communicate these days. These friends of mine are as nerdy as they come (and they know it), and they're much more interested in the Nintendo Switch than they are in the new ZR1. These are men who you would rightly never consider to be car guys. In fact, one of them even drives a Dodge Avenger every single day -- on purpose.

Sometimes in the group chat I'll get all giddy about some car news, like the teaser for the new Mustang Shelby GT500 -- and nobody else will care. However, if the topic of electric cars or plug-in hybrids ever comes up, it lights up the group with enthusiasm. I can't tell you how long we discussed the new Nissan Leaf when it was unveiled.

So why does anyone care about the Nissan Leaf more than the Nissan GT-R? Because electrified cars are attracting nerds like my friends who suddenly become very interested in cars when they get closer to being computers that can take you to work. They want the latest technology -- including propulsion technology. They want the biggest possible infotainment screen that can do the most possible things. They want to see the stats on exactly how far they can go on how much electricity they still have ,and they want to know down to the minute when their car will be done charging.

These electric car enthusiasts usually don't give a second thought to performance. To most of them, that snappy electric torque is a nice bonus of an electrified car, but it's not why they're buying it. They're buying it for the same reason they buy a new laptop: because it's a cool piece of tech that can improve their daily lives.

One of my aforementioned nerdy friends who's especially enthusiastic about electric cars just traded in his Nissan Altima Coupe for a first-gen Chevy Volt, and he's thrilled (he seems to have a knack for underrated cars that nobody buys). He's more excited about his compact Chevy hatchback than he's ever been about any car he's owned before, and he's been eagerly exploring the techy interior that's packed with features he didn't know existed -- while trying to figure out the optimal setup for his new charging unit that's become a semi-permanent part of his garage.

This is a guy who has never turned a wrench in his life, but who has built PCs from scratch. A guy who owns four or five Nintendo 2DSs, but doesn't own a jack. He represents an entirely new kind of car enthusiast -- and I'm happy to welcome him into the fold.

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Electric Cars Are Creating a New Kind of Car Enthusiast - Autotrader