"Misinformation" isn't the problem with the EV transition
Fix the problems, don't pretend they don't exist
They say “never meet your heroes”, but I couldn’t disagree more. Especially if one of your heroes is the Red Dwarf actor and electric vehicles (EV) advocate Robert Llewelyn.
I’ve been lucky enough to have three brief interactions with Robert at various events over the years1. Every time, he was unfailingly delightful, charmed everyone in the room, and took the time to talk to everyone who wanted to speak to him after.
Basically, if you were chiselling a Mount Rushmore-style monument of “extremely likeable public figures”, he would be a good candidate for the third position after Attenborough and Palin2.
But more importantly, he’s an O’Malleyist hero from an ideological perspective. Since 2010, he has been producing Fully Charged, a YouTube show dedicated to electric vehicles and renewable energy. And his channel is a trove of videos of him and his colleagues wearing hard hats and hi-vis vests while visiting infrastructure, building sites and car factories. It’s all extremely good stuff.
He basically perfectly encapsulates the correct view that we should actually build the Net Zero world we need3.
And I bet he’d even back liberating the Postcode Address File if he knew about the issue.
However, this week’s post can’t just be about how much I like Robert Llewellyn. After all, I’m trying to build a brand for being mildly contrarian. So that’s why I’m now going to pivot and do the thing where I pick fights with people I actually really like and tear down national treasures.
So in that spirit, I think I actually disagree with Robert on an aspect of a new campaign he’s started, which actually has its official launch today.
Here’s a quote from the press release:
Robert Llewellyn, Founder of the Fully Charged SHOW, said: “In 13 years of reporting on electric vehicles and clean energy, we cannot recall a time when anti-electric car rhetoric has been so widespread and so severe.
“The reality is that consumers around the world are voting with their feet and buying more and more battery electric vehicles in spite of this needless negativity. In the UK, the opportunity still remains for us to play a part in the new energy and transport paradigm, but misinformation will only leave us stranded in the past.”
And you can sort-of see his point. There are plenty of scare stories being published by the right-wing press about electric vehicles.
In just the last month the Telegraph alone has warned us that “Electric cars are made of pollution and human misery”, the “Brakes of electric vehicles in Britain could be controlled remotely by China”, and how “Biden’s crazy electric car plan means grid collapse, probably this decade”.
Other articles have raised serious questions about whether the economics of the EV transition add-up, how supply is supposedly outstripping demand for EVs, and how Gridserve is using generators to charge cars instead of connections to the electricity grid.
If you’re as extremely pro-EV as I am, it’s probably good for your blood pressure that the Telegraph paywall fades in after only a couple of opening sentences on all of those links.
So I think that ‘StopBS’ existing is definitely a good thing. The EV lobby getting organised will be extremely useful when producers on Good Morning Britain or Politics Live needs a pro-EV voice to appear on a panel opposite the grim inevitability of Toby Young. And whenever there’s a contentious, EV-related vote coming up in Parliament, there will be ready made strike team of lobbyists ready to to bash the phones.
Plus if StopBS can mobilise pro-EV activists to post memes and shape the discourse on social media, that’s great for the cause too.
So what’s my mildly contrarian problem with these good people doing this good thing, in support of a good cause?
Despite the above, I’m not convinced that ‘misinformation’ is actually the real problem, and I think that making it the boogeyman is a misdiagnosis of the problem that the EV transition currently has.
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