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Petrolheads need to get a life and stop abusing Tesla drivers

Get with the times or get off the road.

OPINION

Road rage is terrible enough when some idiot thinks they're entirely within their rights to give you the finger, tailgate or abuse you because of a perceived driving faux pas, but imagine if you copped this kind of abuse simply because of the car you drive.

Electric vehicle drivers are reporting just that. One Aussie motorist recently recounted a bizarre incident of Tesla rage on Facebook: "At a set of lights in Alexandria, Sydney, for no apparent reason at all, an irate man in a Honda SUV pulled up beside me and screamed. 'Ya think ya saving the f**king world in your s**t car.' I just burst out laughing, and he drove off while flipping me off."

Car at Tesla charging station; Man with road rage gesturing through car window
Tesla drivers have been copping abuse simply for choosing an electric vehicle. Source: Getty

Another poster recalled an older man saying Telsa should be banned because they can't pull a 3.5-tonne horse trailer. "I tried to explain I don't make a habit of taking a 3.5-tonne horse trailer to my daughter's swimming lessons, but I don't think he understood," the poster wryly explained.

EV drivers under attack

Hilarious, but the comments accompanying each of these posts contain a litany of anecdotes about Tesla drivers being targeted by drivers of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and they're not funny at all. From the insipid, like Tesla haters making the L sign for loser as they drive past, to the dangerous: tailgating, slamming on the brakes in front of them, to even trying to run them off the road.

It's ironic when most big-name ICE car brands are now turning their iconic cars electric or building new electric cars on dedicated EV platforms.

Former motoring journo, reformed petrolhead, EV expert and host of Range Anxiety on YouTube, Martin Donnon is now driving his third Tesla. "I have people flipping me the bird when they're on the opposite side of the road, or they'll brake-check me. Others will abuse you and mouth off at you out the window at the lights. It's a great laugh for me, but others might not be so thick-skinned."

Some right-wing revheads get all revved up because they perceive Tesla drivers as deadlocked eco-warriors in a fancy car. Interesting, considering Tesla and X founder Elon Musk sits to the right of the political spectrum. "They think he is a flat-out lefty, but he's actually a flat-out businessman," said Donnon.

'Wacko' conspiracies fuel hatred

EV rage isn't Tesla-specific, but Tesla drivers cop it because they account for 90 per cent of EVs on the roads, and their distinct shape makes them an easy target. According to Donnon, the worst offenders are the climate change-denying conspiracy theorists who believe Teslas are the ultimate symbol of the climate change "agenda".

"That's when you see real hatred," Donnon said. "They have no idea what they're on about. I had one guy yell at me that I was 'virtual signalling'. They can't even get their terminology correct. There's another wacko conspiracy that driving an electric car gives the unspecified "them" the right to switch off our engines remotely to punish us if we do something wrong, like post something critical on TikTok. A, it's just ludicrous. And B, if they've got a new petrol car, all that technology exists in it, too."

Electric car charging in front of solar panels
Are ICE vehicle drivers bitter that EV drivers don't have to spend their hard-earned money on fuel? Source: Getty

Petrolheads fighting a losing battle

Another way these clowns turn up the EV hate is a practice known as "ICEing". A Facebook group called ICEHoles & EVHoles Australia charts drivers that block electric car chargers with their vehicles.

"There are two types of ICEHole: the type that has inadvertently taken an EV charging spot. Generally, education works well for them — once people or businesses are educated and recognise the issue, they respond well. Then there is the type who is deliberately blocking an EV charger," a spokesperson for the group told me. "The latter is the primary issue and is no different to if somebody chose to deliberately block an LPG or diesel pump because they happened to have a petrol-powered car."

YouTube is also rife with examples of petrolheads metaphorically farting in the face of EV drivers. Despite the exorbitant price of diesel, deluded motorists troll Tesla drivers by rolling coal, which is when they spurt out heavy diesel exhaust.

"It happens a lot in the US, where drivers force more diesel fuel in the engine of their ICE diesel truck than it can handle, which leads to emitting a ton of black smoke," said Donnon.

Perhaps Tesla rage boils down to petrolheads being angry they're spending a fortune on fuel while EV drivers are not. "They pretend to love spending 160 bucks a week on fuel. But seriously, they hate it. It must drive them crazy that you can power your EV off your solar panels at home. You're using Australian-made energy straight from the sun instead of buying fuel. It's the future. Soon, even the petrolheads will be doing it."

That future can't come soon enough.

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