Rowan Atkinson blamed for slow electric car sales

An environmental group has accused comedian Rowan Atkinson of spreading misinformation regarding electric cars

Rowan Atkinson (Photo credit: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Shajil Kumar

Comedian Rowan Atkinson of Mr Bean fame is now being blamed for poor sales of electric cars in the UK and damaging its reputation.

According to Sky News, Atkinson’s name figured in the House of Lords when a thinktank Green Alliance gave its views on the main obstacles the government faces in its bid to phase out petrol and diesel cars before 2035.

In its report, the pressure group said a comment piece by the 69-year-old actor published in The Guardian in June 2023 was damaging to the cause.

Titled “I love electric vehicles – and was an early adopter. But increasingly I feel duped,” Atkinson wrote that EVs were “a bit soulless” and criticised the use of their lithium-ion batteries.

“They’re absurdly heavy, huge amounts of energy are required to make them, and they are estimated to last only upwards of 10 years. It seems a perverse choice of hardware with which to lead the automobile’s fight against the climate crisis,” he wrote in his column.

He felt that a “wider range of options” should be explored to address the environmental problems caused by motor cars.

A week later Simon Evans of Carbon Brief, a climate news site, debunked Atkinson’s claims in the same newspaper. 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.”

In a letter to the peers, Green Alliance noted: “Unfortunately, fact checks never reach the same breadth of the audience as the original false claim, emphasising the need to ensure high editorial standards around the net zero transition.”

The other deterrents cited by the pressure group include higher purchase costs and insufficient charging infrastructure. It wanted the Government to take a “more proactive and leading role” in communicating a positive view of electric vehicles to customers.

The UK last month registered its one-millionth electric car, but sales remain sluggish.