“Mr Bean” Creator Rowan Atkinson Feels Duped by EV Hype

If you’re familiar with the comedic genius of Rowan Atkinson, known for his memorable roles as Mr. Bean and Blackadder, you might be surprised to learn that he’s also a serious car enthusiast and was an early adopter of electric vehicles. However, recently he’s been voicing some concerns, almost as if he’s found himself in the middle of a puzzling Mr. Bean scenario.

Atkinson acknowledges the benefits of electric cars, such as their impressive speed, quiet operation, and the significant reduction in exhaust emissions, which is undoubtedly a boon for air quality in urban areas. However, he argues that the environmental footprint of these vehicles extends beyond their tailpipe emissions. He points out that the production process for the lithium-ion batteries that power these vehicles is considerably energy-intensive, and the batteries themselves are heavy and have a relatively short lifespan.

Atkinson also takes issue with what he describes as the ‘fast fashion’ approach to car ownership, where vehicles are frequently replaced after just a few years. He compares this to the careful maintenance of a favourite suit in a Mr. Bean episode, suggesting that with proper care, modern cars can last for many years, thereby reducing the environmental impact associated with their manufacture.

Additionally, Atkinson highlights the potential of existing cars, which he argues have already ‘paid’ their environmental cost during manufacture. He suggests synthetic fuel as an alternative, likening it to a well-crafted prop in a theatre production, which serves the same purpose without the negative effects. This fuel is already being used in motor racing and could potentially make older petrol-engine cars almost carbon-neutral.

Finally, he brings up the possibility of hydrogen as an alternative fuel, reminiscent of a Mr. Bean episode where the protagonist considers various unconventional solutions to a problem. If hydrogen becomes a viable option for powering trucks, it could also become a feasible choice for cars.

While Atkinson recognises the benefits of electric vehicles for city driving, especially as a replacement for older diesel cars, he contends that they are not the environmental solution they are often portrayed to be with the day when electric cars provide a significant global environmental benefit has not yet arrived.

Photo (cc) Karen Roe on Flickr