Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson blamed for slow electric car sales | UK News

Rowan Atkinson has been blamed for “damaging” the reputation of electric vehicles (EVs) and contributing to slow sales.

The Mr Bean actor was name-checked in the House of Lords on Tuesday during its environment and climate change committee meeting.

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, and said a comment piece by the Johnny English star published in June 2023 was damaging to the cause.

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.”

Atkinson pictured on top of Mr Bean's famous yellow Mini Cooper. Pic: AP
Atkinson pictured on top of Mr Bean’s famous yellow Mini Cooper. Pic: AP

The 69-year-old actor’s piece was headlined: “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.

He suggested solutions like drivers keeping the same car for longer periods of time and increased use of synthetic fuel would negate the need for EVs, saying: “Increasingly, I’m feeling that our honeymoon with electric cars is coming to an end, and that’s no bad thing.”

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The actor, who described himself as a “car person” having got a degree in electrical and electronic engineering, said he advised friends to “hold fire for now” on EVs unless they have an old diesel vehicle.

The Guardian published a response the following week from Simon Evans, deputy editor and senior policy editor of climate news site Carbon Brief, which looked to debunk Atkinson’s claims.

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 views were used to make a wider point about “misleading” reports stunting EV sales.

Other challenges highlighted during the committee meeting included insufficient numbers of charging points, higher prices on EVs and “a lack of clear and consistent messaging from the government”.