Mr Bean blamed for Britain's sluggish electric car sales

By dpa | 22 February 2024

LONDON: The actor best known for playing the hapless TV comedy figure Mr Bean has been blamed for ruining the reputation of electric cars in Britain, according to evidence given to the upper house of Parliament here.

"One of the most damaging articles was a comment piece written by Rowan Atkinson in The Guardian, which has been roundly debunked," the environmentalist think tank Green Alliance told British lawmakers, local media reported in February.

Atkinson, who rose to fame in the 1990s in the role of Mr Bean, described electric cars as "a bit soulless" in a comment piece published in June 2023.

The news comes as new petrol and diesel cars are due to be banned from 2035 under British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's net zero strategy — a plan aimed at encouraging drivers to buy EVs.

Bean actor

The last two months of 2023 saw electric vehicle sales in Britain dip sharply, marking a contrast to figures for the same period a year before.

Atkinson is an avowed petrol-head who has owned a range of powerful sports cars. He also has a university degree in electrical engineering and electronics as well as a master's degree in control systems.

In the piece, the actor said his interest in cars led him to e-mobility early on. "I bought my first electric hybrid 18 years ago and my first pure electric car nine years ago."

The number of famous personalities publicly decrying EVs is very small, although US actor George Clooney was said to have been no fan of his Tesla and later auctioned if off to charity.

A 2023 study of 400 men in the US, conducted by Dr Michael Parent of the University of Texas at Austin, concluded that more "macho" men are reluctant to buy EVs due to the belief that electrics will make them appear less masculine.