SEE ME BE ME: Shahzad Sheikh aka BrownCarGuy on the Electric Vehicles, Net Zero, and the future of motoring!
Shahzad Sheikh is THE BrownCarGuy – he was Saudi Arabia’s first motoring journalist, and has had a long and super successful career in the motoring media. Now, he runs BrownCarGuy – a YouTube channel, website, and community. He also freelances with numerous motoring publications, and is the man to talk to about all things cars.
See Me Be Me is a podcast that spotlights diverse talent across any and every career path.
In the car community, and even in the automotive journalism community, you’re either petrol or your electric. You’re like, I must have an engine noise, or you’re like, and I must save the planet, and I think that’s the wrong approach. To me, EVs are another form of cars. And fundamentally, I love cars.
I’ve been through this process before, because I used to love petrol cars, and then about 20 years ago, when they really started to push diesel, I didn’t like diesel. But then when the common rail diesel engines came in, I went, whoa, damn, this is actually really good. I think at that point, I realised that I shouldn’t be so limited in my thinking, I should always be open to new approaches and new ideas and new concepts. And I think that that’s just stayed with me.
And it’s great for the motorists, because the you can now choose between the petrol or diesel, or hybrid or electric, and maybe in the future hydrogen, or maybe something else, and to me, like choice is not a bad thing. Choice is a good thing.
Vehicle retrofitting is another option.
But it’s more expensive, and costs aren’t necessarily coming down. And some people really think it’s sacrilege, vandalism even! But if the car was dying, or the engine was dying, and you rescued it, great. And if you can afford to do it, great. For example, I saw an old 80s Rolls Royce being converted, and I asked why, because that was going to take a lot of batteries. But it was very simple – the guy who owned the car has had it a long time and he wanted to keep it forever, but his children refused to get into it. They were very environmentally conscious, and didn’t want to sit in this gas guzzling, dirty old great big thing. So for the benefit of being able to drive his family around in it, he’s going through the conversion process.
But cost is prohibitive. I reckon we’re going to hit a battery shortage around 2030 – I think there’s fundamentally not enough lithium that’s going to be available to us, so I can see prices continuing to go up. Technology is coming down the pipeline, that’s going to make batteries and battery technology faster, better, and give us longer ranges. If there’s a demand, companies are going to find the solution.
We should be looking at every possibility – whether that’s traditional lithium ion batteries, or sodium ion batteries, or diamond encrusted radioactive batteries from the Starship Enterprise. It could be anything, right? Even alternative fuels – net neutral fuels, like carbon extracted fuels or biofuels.
We shouldn’t be taking anything off the table, or putting all our eggs in one basket, because we did that with diesel – we were told that was the answer, and now we’re told no, diesel is the fuel of the devil. And the irony is, diesel technology just got really good. But it was a red herring – it makes you think, what else is a red herring? We shouldn’t be going down one single route, we should be looking at all the possibilities.