‘It’s Like a Rocket’: Videos Show Coal Miners Driving Electric Car | Electric vehicles
What happens when you take an electric car into a town full of oil tankers and coal miners and film them planting their steel hooded boots on the accelerator?
“Fuck me… it’s like a rocket,” says a miner, who usually spends his time driving V8s or maneuvering a giant coal shovel.
The YouTube and Twitter channel Coal Miners Driving Teslas is the project of Daniel Bleakley, 39, a mechanical engineer turned climate change activist.
Other reactions – heavily spiced with rampant curse words – range from “it’s like taking off on a plane” to three “yee haws” to the cowboy of independent and veteran Australian MP Bob Katter.
Bleakley has a performance version of the Tesla Model 3 that can go from zero to 100 km / h in about 3.3 seconds (0 to 60 mph in 3.1 s).
For non-car enthusiasts, Bleakley’s Model 3 will leave most production Porsches and BMWs in its wake. The Model 3 is considered Tesla’s entry-level vehicle, costing between $ 65,000 and $ 90,000 new.
The location of most of Bleakley’s videos is the coal town of Clermont in the Queensland region, where he grew up and where his parents and brother live. The people he lets his car drive mainly work in the mines and drive powerful gasoline cars and utility vans.
But Bleakley wants to convert them and sees the power to show their unexpected astonishment at the technology.
It’s safe to say that Clermont isn’t the kind of place where you would find enthusiastic support for electric cars, which in Australia have been politicized as a famous cause environmentalists.
“People here love cars,” he says. “My mate is a huge tanker and he has rebuilt V8s. His whole family loves cars. When they sit down in the Tesla, they are completely blown away.
Bleakley worked in the petroleum industry in Scotland and in mining in Western Australia, but now lives in Melbourne where he ran a printing company. But he’s always worried about the climate crisis.
“I thought it was a future problem. But over the past few years, I’ve realized it’s here and now, and we need to act.
Two years ago, he decided to focus full time on climate change and environmental activism. In 2019, he stuck his hand to a window of a Siemens office in Melbourne over the tech firm’s contract to supply technology to a railway line for the controversial Adani coal mine. The mine is close to his hometown.
But seeing his friends go crazy in an electric car “was a real eye-opener.”
“Traditional activism is about saying stop or saying no,” he says. “But that means, ‘here’s an amazing spaceship from the future and you can drive it.’ It’s a future we can all have if we choose to.
Last week, Bleakley drove 375 miles from Clermont to Charters Towers on a single charge to meet the inimitable Katter – a silver-haired independent MP whose Kennedy electorate covers over 500,000 square kilometers – an area slightly larger than the Spain. (Bleakley arrived with only 8 miles left in the battery and had to sleep through the night with his motel room door open to run an extension cable to charge the car.)
“Yee haw,” Katter yelled three times as the car’s instant torque pinned the 76-year-old to his seat. “It’s so exciting – it’s so exciting.”
Is Katter converted? Not entirely.
He told The Guardian he thought the car was “a bit small” and that while the acceleration was “fantastic” he insisted that charging takes “two and a half hours” (charging times depend on actually the battery, the car, and the charging station, but modern chargers can add 175 km or more of range in about 10 minutes).
That said, Katter wants to see an Australian electric vehicle and battery industry, and is working with other independents on a fuel safety bill that will include his ideas – alongside securing oil supplies and increase in renewable liquid fuels.
What became Bleakley’s first video was actually taken by his brother, who had borrowed the car and filmed a colleague driving it.
But his favorite is a video of a childhood friend and “Clermont’s biggest weirdo” who says on camera that it’s “like a rocket”.
“I’ve known him since I was a child. It has these incredible high performance V8s. Seeing him drive the Tesla and love the car for me was really special. That’s when I realized I was really into something, ”says Bleakley.
Australia lags far behind other developed countries in the adoption of electric vehicles.
Australia’s electric vehicle industry – which accounted for just 0.6% of new car sales in 2019 – attributes a complete lack of support from the federal government.
In 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed that the opposition’s electric vehicle policy would “end the weekend” for Australians who liked to tow a trailer or a boat, or go camping.
Last week, Ford in the United States launched a fully electric version of its market-leading F150 truck (it can tow 10,000 lbs or 4.5 tons, according to Ford).
Electric vehicle makers have said Australia’s lack of policies to encourage sales means the country lacks an increasingly wide range of vehicles, as manufacturers target more welcoming markets.
Bleakley says he would like to get Scott Morrison into his car, but thinks the odds are unlikely. Next on his radar is therefore independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie.
“She’s a real person and she represents her people,” says Bleakley. “I want to see her do a quarter mile on a drag strip. I want to see her feel that way.