The German Media Got Manipulated Into Spreading Anti-EV Nonsense … Again
In many cases, mainstream media outlets — whether they are German, American, or other — seem to be biased against electric vehicles and clean energy, especially when covering Tesla. Based on that bias alone, it’s easier for certain companies or other players to take advantage of this and manipulate the media into doing the bidding of fossil fuel lobby groups. Neon Research’s director, Auke Hoekstra, explored that a bit in a recent Twitter thread.
The Manipulation Tactics
In his Twitter thread, Hoekstra called into question the accuracy of a headline claiming that “171 scientists found a calculation error that proves that EVs are not greener than ICE vehicles.” I’m going to dive into Hoekstra’s thread here.
171 scientists find calculation error that proves the electric vehicle is not greener!
That’s the gist of many German papers today but a better headline would be:
THE COMBUSTION ENGINE LOBBY IS GASLIGHTING AGAIN
— AukeHoekstra (@AukeHoekstra) June 21, 2021
Hoekstra analyzed an open letter to the EU Commission by a combustion engine lobby group that was seemingly engaging in greenwashing. The open letter, written by the International Association of Sustainable Drivetrain and Vehicle Technology Research (IASTEC), was based on a calculation published by a mathematical journal by combustion engine scientists. That report was a little hard to read, and even Hoekstra had to call on a friend who is a quantum physics scientist to help him take it apart.
Tom Brown, Hoekstra’s friend, explained that in the report, the authors unnecessarily complicated things by grouping them into two different categories. Brown’s verdict was that the calculation would never get published in an actual energy-related journal and that the paper was over-complicated and amateurish for its simple message.
Hoekstra explained that the authors were calculating marginal electricity without knowing that term.
“If you use more electricity than solar and wind can provide, you need to burn coal and that emits a lot more CO2 per kWh of energy. So you could say EVs drive on coal. But it could also be electricity to produce gasoline. Or electricity to produce hydrogen or another eFuel. Or heat pumps. Or lighting. Or anything basically. Using this method you can use anything you don’t like and say: ‘if we wouldn’t do this we would burn less coal.’”
Hoekstra noted that this trick was something that he’s discussed before in his publication on how to calculate EV emissions correctly. He’s also discussed it in a rebuttal of the work of a Saudi Aramco scientist.
IASTEC Left Out Some Data — Was It Intentional?
Hoekstra noted that IASTEC forgot that EVs will engage in demand-response in 2030 — meaning they will charge in off-peak hours to avoid overloading the grid and to get cheaper electricity. Many EV owners charge their vehicles at night.
This lowers carbon dioxide emissions since off-peak electricity is more renewable, Hoekstra noted. He also pointed out that they forgot that the electricity mix gets greener over the lifetime of the EV. For example, Germany plans to close its coal-fired plants by 2038 at the latest. This is happening during the lifetime of some new electric vehicles and needs to be taken into account.
“To summarize, this new study showing the EU Commission makes a calculation error that underestimates CO2 emissions of EVs has found a smoking gun. Instead, it proves that the authors are pretty clueless.”
I would think that as a researcher, one would like to include all of the information they could find in order to be as accurate as possible — unless that researcher had an agenda to push.
The German Media’s Role In Amplifying This Misinformation
To be fair, the German media may have been manipulated by shiny, complicated, and mathematical data that was unnecessarily confusing and equated that confusion with the idea that “it must be true,” and then didn’t research the information deeply for themselves. In essence, they could have been manipulated.
However, given what I’ve heard and seen of German media coverage of Tesla, and EVs more generally, I think they might have been all too happy to amplify the misinformation.
Hoekstra pointed out and linked to several German publications that published the misleading information, and he hopes that they can “rectify their breathless misinformation.” These organizations include:
IASTEC Could Be A Fake Organization
Remember the Aston Martin drama that Hoekstra uncovered last year? An official created a fake “independent” research organization that published “data” that the German media picked up. I wrote about that and you can read more here if you missed it. It was a fascinating story
Well, it seems that IASTEC could be a front organization for Thomas Koch, who was one of the lead authors of that confusing report. The IASTEC was founded just days ago, Hoekstra said while sharing the tweet below.
“IASTEC is currently in the process of founding” and the website is only six days old. It seems like this organisation is more an organisation for promoting his open letter and the position paper. pic.twitter.com/J3XDH8KtsK
— Felix (@goe_f) June 22, 2021
The screenshot shows that the website for IASTEC was registered on June 16, 2021. And in the second screenshot, which is of the website’s contact page, IASTEC claimed that it “is currently in the process of founding. Until it will be officially founded and a board respectively an executive committee will be defined, a representative of the founding team acts as the official contact partner.”
That contact partner is Dr. Thomas Koch.
Hoekstra noted Koch’s paper is getting a lot of international support among those working on combustion engines.