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UK newspapers print false “study” from PR firm


A new “study” claiming that electric cars are harmful to the climate has appeared as major British media outlets took the ‘fake science’ up without due scrutiny.

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Not only did the report contain false figures, research now shows that scientists did not write this report, but a PR firm that counts Aston Martin, Optare, Bosch, Honda and the Renewable Transport Fuel Association among its clients.

The above photo is Aston Martin’s failed Rapid-e electric car that never saw the light of day. The company is implicitly implicated in an attempt to fudge the facts after their own attempts to transform have hit a bog. It appears that the press has been deliberately fed lobbying disguised as a scientific study to polish up the image of combustion engines and synthetic fuels.

On LinkedIn, Michael Liebreich, Chairperson and CEO of Liebreich Associates and Senior Contributor to Bloomberg New Energy Finance wrote: “Over the weekend I uncovered evidence that the report was written by a sock-puppet PR company run from an address co-owned by Aston Martin’s Director of Global Government and Corporate Affairs,” and goes on to extrapolate on this evidence in a detailed article.

Scientist Auke Hoekstra who researches electric vehicles at the Eindhoven University of Technology and for whom comparing CO2 emissions of electric vehicles and combustion cars is a speciality, debunks the study with accessible information on a Twitter thread below.

The newspapers who published the results of this “study”, which includes the Daily Mail, The Times, The Telegraph and Metro, either did not look into the sources or perhaps worse, looked into them and publishing anyway. One thing is for sure when these things come to light. They are not only embarrassing to the newspapers that print them but to the lobby firms that are flogging them. Eventually, this kind of negative blowback reflects on the clients these lobby PR firms represent.

One client of the PR firm who should know better is Bosch, who is heavily invested in hydrogen energy. This is particularly sad since hydrogen technology must absolutely not be seen as a competitor to battery-electric vehicles since the two technologies are in fact complementary and cater to different vehicle sectors with the very same goal of achieving zero-emission transport.

The spread of misinformation is equally, if not more counterproductive for Optare, who only days ago announced their change of name to Switch Mobility to represent their increased focus on electric and sustainable transport solutions including battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell, zero-emission buses as well as light electric commercial vehicles.

One can’t help wondering if the global management at some of the above-named companies even knew of the lobby work being carried out by their UK PR firm.

Update 04 December 2020: Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers reacted with a statement on Twitter. Aston Martin’s involvement in the report had been initiated before his time, and he had only learned of it from the media. He further wants to initiate an investigation into the background. He stressed, Aston Martin is clearly committed to the development of electric and hybrid cars, which is also the purpose of the recently concluded cooperation with Mercedes-Benz. (Update)


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