He’s got a way with words

I love newspapers (being a newspaper reporter myself), but I’m not that into cars. Conventional cars, that is. I don’t routinely read what’s produced by automotive reporters. With one exception — Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times. There are good reasons why he won a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism (which usually goes to arts reviewers of some kind). The guy has a way with words and gets to the heart of the matter.

Dan Neil Take a look at his recent review of driving the upcoming Nissan Leaf electric car. It’s a veritable love letter, which doesn’t surprise me (because I know that driving a good electric vehicle can send one swooning head over heals in love) but may surprise anyone unfamiliar with electric drive. Neil is eminently quotable, with great turns of phrase like, “When gasoline-powered cars sleep at night, they dream of being electric.”

And today he posted a review of driving the upcoming Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. Not quite as much of a swoon-fest, but still full of solid praise, with comments like, “…the whole car seems lighted from within by the ambitions of its builders.”

Neil has come a long way since his negative cameo in the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?, in which he suggested that consumers weren’t ready for EVs. Now, in the Leaf review, he says, “Perhaps the question is not, `Will people buy them ‘ but `Can we build enough ‘” I look forward to reading more from him as EVs and PHEVs start to roll off the assembly lines.

by Sherry Boschert

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