Although considered an invention of the late 20th century, electric cars predate the motion picture by four years. Thomas Parker invented the first commercially practical electric car in 1884 in Wolverhampton while Louis Le Prince demonstrated it Roundhay GardenLeeds’ first animated feature film in 1888.
The British soon managed to get both successes out of the country so that the Americans would get rich, of course, but, oddly enough, the inventions took some time to converge. In fact, the first big mainstream flicks to convince us that we might one day give up our addiction to burning the fossilized remains of ancient plants were launched by the likes of Steve Spielberg, Ridley Scott and James Cameron in the late twentieth century.
But how realistic is their depiction of electric-powered cars? And most importantly, which one was the coolest? Read on for the Hollywood EV Top Trumps, which should settle the matter once and for all…
spinners – Blade Runner 2049
An LAPD Vertical Takeoff and Landing Vehicle (eVTOL) used by Officer Ryan Gosling K in his long search for Harrison Ford’s paranoid Deckard.
Anxiety range: 0/10. Powered by “quantum batteries”, it can apparently fly for hours over cities and through the deserted halls of deserted Las Vegas.
Cooling factor: 8/10 The intentional boxy design of the 1980s was offset by the flyability, interior display and Gosling/Harrison leadership in the past.
Features we want: airline. Obvs.
Similar to reality: Some eVTOL taxis are in trial at Heathrow now.
M577 APC – Aliens
This lightweight US Marine Corps Armored Vehicle is ideal for troop transport and can be deployed by dropship ship.
Scope concern: 2. The M577 doesn’t have to worry about running out of power, thanks to its multi-fuel gas turbine which can generate electricity when the batteries are low. Unfortunately, the vehicle is hampered by exposure to acid blood pumped from the Xenomorph in high-speed collisions.
Cooling factor: 7. It’s 3.38 meters wide and takes up a lot of highway which is horrible in built-up areas but useful for making things explode.
Features we want: There’s plenty of room if you ditch your three-day ammo, as well as the rotating watchtower and autopilot.
Similar to reality: It is unlikely that you will be an inspiration to the creators of your everyday vehicles.
light cycle – Tron: Legacy
A light motorcycle-like vehicle with a protective canopy and driver-specific color scheme.
scale anxiety: 0, In the gameworld where liquid electricity is on tap. (10 In the real world because it has no energy storage system.)
Cooling factor: 5. It can only move in straight lines and 90 degree angles and irritate other road users by leaving a trail of bright light in its wake.
Features we want: The ability to melt when not needed (saves in parking), all glowing lights, and outrageous acceleration.
Similar to reality: It was supplied by Parker Brothers as a Neutron electric motorcycle in a very limited edition of 25 bikes per year. Pricing starts at $55,000 (£46,000).
Audi RSQ – I’m a robot
Back when Will Smith was fighting robots instead of comedians, the Chicago Police Department released this little sports coupe for him.
Scope concern: 2. It never seems to need charging even though Audi hasn’t released actual battery specifications.
Cooling factor: 9. Any vehicle strong enough to survive repeated attacks by violent robots, massive explosions and backflips, then scream into a highway tunnel for a mile, smash into a wall and still get the driver out unharmed, is perfect for any urban family.
Features we want: Rear scissor doors, balls instead of wheels, voice control operating system, the ability to turn the handbrake without using the handbrake.
Similar to reality: It bears an eerie design resemblance to the Audi R8 launched in 2006, two years after the Robot was released – the EV version has been with us since 2015, albeit without all the futuristic gadgets.
Sabed cruiser – ruined man
’90s cop John Spartan in Sylvester Stallone is freezing with bad guy Wesley Snipes to thaw in 2032 by hilarious LAPD cops in slow-moving, autonomous cars.
Scope concern: 1. A hybrid with a range of over 120 mpg means Sly never has to refuel while hiking past Wesley Snipes.
Cooling factor: 4. Dorky’s future cop Sandra Bullock, who loves the greatest ad jingles of the ’90s, doesn’t add to the low-key racers’ vibe.
Features we want: Securo-O-Foam that protects the crew from serious injuries in the event of an accident, or can be the basis for a large foam party.
Similar to reality: Surprisingly enough, this was a GM concept car that was built in 1992 to show off a combination of light carbon fiber, a hybrid/two-stroke engine, and a low drag coefficient.
Lexus 2054 – Minority Report
While the Minority Report delves into futuristic technology in Mag Leaf pods, when cop Tom Cruise takes off, his sleek Lexus sports coupe runs on fuel cells.
Scale concern: 0. Everything electric is ubiquitous in Spielberg’s fantasy future world.
Cooling factor: 10. Low rider, fat wheels, basically a bullet.
Features we want: Spot curves, fuel cells, anti-collision structure and biometric security.
Similar to reality: Spielberg has brought together MIT professors to help build his futuristic world, and so far their predictions about facial recognition, predictive policing, voice-controlled homes, and personalized advertising are all fine, so it’s probably only a matter of time.
DeLorean DMC-12 Biofuel – Back to the future, part two
In Back to the Future Part 2, Doc Brown uses leftovers, banana peels, and leftover beer to feed the legendary DeLorean with a version of cold fusion.
Scope concern: 1. Assuming you don’t run out of leftovers.
Cooling factor: 4 Without time travel, it would be a mess, Doctor. really sorry.
Features we want: Time travel, obvs, and cold fusion.
Similar to reality: Launched this year by the famous Italian Italdesign, the four-seater DeLorean Alpha5 is basically the EV version of the car in the movies. Just without time travel or flight. And don’t try to fill it with banana peel.
Audi R8 e-tron – Iron Man III
Given that the movie version of Tony Stark is based on Elon Musk, it seems a bit unfair that when the all-electric Iron Man goes for a third outing, he should prefer the Audi R8 over the Tesla.
Scale anxiety: 0 No need to worry about guesswork with this. Its range is 300 miles per hour. How can we be accurate? It’s product placement, my friend (see similarities to reality below).
Cooling factor: 8 I mean, look at her. Oh yeah, and Iron Man is driving it.
Features we want: The tire’s screeching, coming from the car’s 612 pound-feet of torque, plus an “e-tron sports sound” generated by dual speakers in the luggage compartment, virtual cockpit, head-up display, and audio system. Basically everything.
Similar to reality: The advantage of product placement is that this product is now available, simply pop into any Audi retailer near you and pick it up for a fantastic £82,150. Uh, well, so maybe next year…
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