Arthur Saginian | The Joy of Mashing the Gas

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

In this morning’s letter to the editor (Oct. 19), Lynn Wright countered the claims made by Phyllis McKenna regarding electric vehicles. From the tone of each of the letters I would presume that Mr. Wright is liberal and Ms. McKenna is conservative — or at least that’s how Mr. Wright’s letter made it out to be. I have my own opinions regarding electric vehicles versus gasoline-powered vehicles, but they are not based in political ideology, environmental sensitivity, global technological or economical superiority, or any other “logical” motivator. They are based on primitive, selfish desire. What can I say, I’m a hunter-gatherer at heart, a Neanderthal in modern clothing.

But before I share with you the reasons I prefer gasoline over electricity, I will point out one technical fallacy in Mr. Wright’s statements. Electric power, once generated, is never lost to “dissipation,” or anything else for that matter. It is either consumed or it isn’t. Electric power is generated by ramping units up and down to meet a demand. It’s that simple. My 37 years as an engineer at the L.A. Department of Water and Power has taught me that much. OK, enough on how electricity is generated and consumed. 

On to the rest of Mr. Wright’s letter…

As for where the power comes from, I really don’t care. As for battery technologies, I really don’t care. As for charging times, I really don’t care. As for range, I really don’t care. As for which country the bloody things come from, I really don’t care. Phenomenal torque and 0 to 60 in two seconds — whatever. I’ve driven a variety of electric vehicles in my time and none of them even comes close to giving me the “feeling” I get when I press down on the accelerator pedal and inject fuel into the cylinders of a gasoline engine. There is no substitute for internal combustion. It’s like trying to replace sugar with Aspartame, butter with margarine, or red meat with “IMPOSSIBLE.” Yuck. It’s downright anemic. 

Then there’s the sweet smell of gasoline, and there’s a chemical reason for that smell — benzene. Benzene, like most fossil fuels, is an aromatic. Fragrances are also deemed “aromatic,” although I wouldn’t splash gasoline on my skin before a date. I feel good deep down inside whenever I refuel my car. The wonders of batteries are no match for the aromas of gasoline. Did you know that inhaling aromatics gives you feelings of euphoria? For some neurological reason they bind to the pleasure receptors in our brains. Go figure. I’m no conservative, but the older ways do feel better. Progress is taking all the fun out of life.

In conclusion, neither one of the letters I read regarding electric vehicles had any effect on me. Wright and McKenna are both fine writers who do a good job of illustrating their respective points, but no amount of persuasive rhetoric can convince me to leave the fuel I love, and love is blind. 

With me, it’s visceral. 

Arthur Saginian

Santa Clarita

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