Rowan Atkinson has been held to blame for slowing down sales and “damaging” the reputation of electric cars (EVs).
During the House of Lords’ environment and climate change committee hearing last week, the Mr. Bean actor received some name-checking.
The Johnny English star’s June 2023 comment post, according to thinktank Green Alliance, was detrimental to the government’s efforts to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2035. The group also shared its opinions on the primary challenges facing the government in this endeavour.
The pressure group told peers in a letter that was shared: “One of the most damaging articles was a comment piece written by Rowan Atkinson in The Guardian which has been roundly debunked.
“Unfortunately, fact checks never reach the same breadth of audience as the original false claim, emphasising the need to ensure high editorial standards around the net zero transition.”
The 69-year-old actor’s piece was headlined: “I love electric vehicles – and was an early adopter. But increasingly I feel duped.”
EVs were attacked by Atkinson as being “a bit soulless” and criticised them for using lithium-ion batteries.
He said: “Increasingly, I’m feeling that our honeymoon with electric cars is coming to an end, and that’s no bad thing.” He proposed remedies like people retaining their cars longer and using more synthetic fuel would eliminate the need for EVs.
A graduate of electrical and electronic engineering, the actor defined himself as a “car person” and claimed he told people to “hold fire for now” on EVs unless they had an old diesel vehicle.
The next week, Simon Evans, the deputy editor and senior policy editor of the climate news website Carbon Brief, responded to Atkinson’s accusations and wrote a rebuttal in The Guardian.
Mr Evans wrote: “Atkinson’s biggest mistake is his failure to recognise that electric vehicles already offer significant global environmental benefits, compared with combustion-engine cars.”
Atkinson’s opinions were used to illustrate a larger argument about EV sales being hampered by “misleading” news.
The committee meeting also emphasised the need for more charging stations, lower EV costs, and “a lack of clear and consistent messaging from the government” as other issues.