Electric cars are shaping the future of mobility. They are driving further, becoming smarter and paving the way for travel tomorrow: they will finally be fully autonomous and free us from the constraints of driving. Which is all very well but what about cool cruising, breath-taking looks and awe-inspiring mechanics? Are they part of the master plan too? Méthos pondered their power and the result is an electrifying ethnography.
Few European countries have significant numbers of electric cars. The notable exception is Norway, which has been investing in renewable energies and encouraging its citizens to go green for decades. Its first electric car – the legendary Buddy – dates back to 1991, the number of battery-powered vehicles on its roads has never stopped growing, and the Tesla Model S was its category’s bestseller last year. So Norway was the best place to start.
The Méthos teams thus got to work in Oslo, before moving on to Frankfurt (Germany) and lastly France, to spend time with people who drive electric cars. Many of their fellow motorists look up to them as trailblazers because they are all – sometimes unknowingly – early adopters experimenting and experiencing an all-new angle on mobility in their everyday lives.
Some see their electric vehicles as nice-to-have gadgets, others as lifestyle statements, but most of them are now believers who willingly preach the good news. Electric cars are changing the way people think about mobility, and in doing so changing drivers themselves, ushering them into an all-new world where they use cars in new and different ways, with new and different upsides and downsides. This phenomenon warrants a close look from a fresh angle. Because, yes, the engines are out! And so many other things are in.
Méthos teams followed this new breed of drivers on the road, in their cars, in their garages and in their daily lives. Our findings and the ethnographic film we produced shed light on the way people relate to electric cars and, with a little luck (and a lot of hard work) herald what the coming decade has in store for us.