The leading actor and car enthusiast Rowan Atkinson has written an essay suggesting he feels “duped” by electric cars.
Writing in the Guardian, the Blackadder and Mr Bean star says that, while he was an early adopter of both hybrids and electric vehicles, “When you start to drill into the facts, electric motoring doesn’t seem to be quite the environmental panacea it is claimed to be”.
While he says zero tailpipe emissions are good for city-centre air quality, “If you zoom out a bit and look at a bigger picture that includes the car’s manufacture, the situation is very different. In advance of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow in 2021, Volvo released figures claiming that greenhouse gas emissions during production of an electric car are 70% higher than when manufacturing a petrol one.”
He goes on to explain that “The problem lies with the lithium-ion batteries fitted currently to nearly all electric vehicles: they’re absurdly heavy, many rare earth metals and huge amounts of energy are required to make them, and they only last about 10 years. It seems a perverse choice of hardware with which to lead the automobile’s fight against the climate crisis.”
Mr Atkinson says it is a subject he knows about, given his passion for motorcars and the fact his first university degree was in electrical and electronic engineering, with a subsequent master’s in control systems.
He suggests in the future, lighter solid-state batteries will be an answer, as will hydrogen and synthetic fuels, but that the “our honeymoon with electric cars is coming to an end,” commenting “That’s no bad thing: we’re realising that a wider range of options need to be explored if we’re going to properly address the very serious environmental problems that our use of the motor car has created”.
He concludes, “Electric propulsion will be of real, global environmental benefit one day, but that day has yet to dawn”.
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(Picture courtesy of PBJ Management Talent Agency)