Earlier this year, a 20 page anti-EV report was released by a group called “Clarendon Communications”. The mainstream media said “seems legit”, and ran with a bogus story that EVs only produce less emissions than gas cars after 50,000 miles. They claimed making batteries produces such a huge amount of emissions that it takes years before an EV can really be considered cleaner than a combustion car that pollutes the air around us by releasing toxic emissions.
A lot of people were probably fooled by this bogus study, especially since mainstream media outlets ran with the story and lent the credibility of their own brand to the bogus report. Very few people will actually take the time to go look at the report behind the story and see if it’s actually accurate or not.
Michael Liebreich to the Rescue
Luckily, Michael Liebeich called bullshit. He wrote a long LinkedIn post debunking the whole report, and then investigating who was really behind it. Surprise, surprise: It turned out it was Legacy Auto! I’m sure this is the first time anyone from the auto industry has ever done something like this though. Right?
Aston Martin’s Director of Global Government and Corporate Affairs had his wife register Clarendon Communications as a “sockpuppet” or fake company to push the report without the misinformation being linked back to the automaker.
Problems with the Report
Michael made a few observations about why the claim that EVs are only cleaner after 50,000 miles is bogus:
- The report used WLTP figures from a dyno rather than real world data that would have made the numbers look better for EVs
- The report counted upstream emissions in the production of electricity, but failed to account for upstream emissions in the production of gasoline
- The report didn’t account for electricity from the grid naturally becoming greener over the life of the car (a trend that is accelerating much faster than expected as renewables become the cheapest form of electricity in history)
- “there appeared to be anomalies in the CO2 footprint associated with the manufacture of the rest of the car, excluding the drive train” (didn’t dig into what this means)
Questions for those Involved
At the end of the post, the following questions were posed for those involved:
Who actually wrote the Clarendon Communications report? For all its dodgy figures, it took a team of people a few months to put together. There were drafts, authors, layout people, photo rights to clear, emails to sponsors, discussions about the timing of release. How extensive was the deception?
What did senior management at Aston Martin know? This was a sock puppet PR company in the name of the wife (presumably) of the company’s Director of Global Government and Corporate Affairs. Aston Martin is a quoted company. There are governance rules. Were they broken?
Were stock market rules broken?
The MP for Warwick & Leamington, Matt Western, wrote a foreword for the Clarendon Communications report. He is the constituency MP for Gaydon, the site of Aston Martin’s HQ and a largest plant, as well as Chair of the All Party Group on EVs, It is entirely appropriate for him to support his largest local employer and to fight for local jobs, so no blame should adhere to him. But will Matt Western now be issuing a statement distancing himself from the report and its dodgy figures?
What did the other organisations listed in the Clarendon Communications report know? We need to hear from Bosch, Honda UK, Leaders Live (whoever they are), the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, McLaren Group, Optare (where former Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer is now Chair), and the Renewable Transport Fuel Association. Were they all in on this, or was it just Aston Martin?
Were the journalists who covered the report in on this too, or were they fooled? Did they receive the report directly from Aston Martin and know that Clarendon Communications was a facade? Or was it distributed to them via Clarendon Communications and they did not undertake the basic checks that I did?
Will the media outlets which carried the “50,000 miles to emissions breakeven” story now issue corrections?
What will the reaction of Aston Martin’s institutional investors be? Asset managers and owners want us to believe they have started paying real attention to ESG. So will this sort of behaviour by a major car company have consequences or not? Invesco, Fidelity, Vanguard – what are you going to do?MetaFilter
Also, gotta love this comment from mhoye on MetaFilter:
I have to admit a certain bafflement. Who in the car industry can watch an entry-model Tesla jump off the line faster than anything but the most expensive supercars out there, and still. think internal combustion is the right side of history to pick? Is this sort of nonsense going to help you put off retooling long enough to be worth getting to market five years too late? Do you just… do you just really need cars to go vroom?mhoye on MetaFilter
P.S. These Techniques Are Widespread and Used by Predators like Aaron Jacob Greenspan
Shocked that the mainstream media got tricked into publishing anti-EV propaganda? Well, then you’re not going to want to see these stories:
This blog post on Jalopnik calls PlainSite a “legal transparency nonprofit group” in an article about Credit Acceptance Corporation. Of course, those paying attention know that PlainSite is not a charity focused on legal transparency for the good of the public. PlainSite is a stock market short-seller posing as a charity. We know this from PlainSite founder Aaron Greenspan’s own admissions:
It may be possible, but that doesn’t mean it’s right and that doesn’t mean it’s legal. Using a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity to try and build a “profitable media enterprise” funded by short-selling isn’t just a bad idea: it’s also felony tax fraud. There is a reason why non-profit charities don’t pay taxes. They’re supposed to serve the public good, not the interests of a private party that is trying to make money for themselves. When you receive the financial benefits of a tax exemption but abuse that benefit to enrich yourself rather than help the public, you’ve defrauded the American people and broken the law.
Sure enough, Aaron Greenspan admitted to shorting Credit Acceptance Corp in the Wall Street Journal:
Good to see that Greenspan lost just as much money on CACC as his other moronic short-selling bets, but sad that he’s so often able to deceive people into thinking they are hearing information from an unbiased non-profit charity when really they’re hearing lies from a short seller who makes money when a company’s share price falls.
Journalists: Please stop giving a platform to short-sellers like Aaron Jacob Greenspan and his fraudulent charity the Think Computer Foundation (doing business as PlainSite). These people depend on the credibility of your brand for the air of legitimacy needed to continue smearing their victims under the guise of “journalism” and “free speech”. We are all depending on you to be able to understand what people’s real motives are when they try and push a story through a mainstream publication. I know from personal experience that Aaron Greenspan has a dark, cold heart and will turn against you quickly if you fail to cooperate with him. Heed my warning all, and stay away from this monster. He may seem like a “useful nut”, until he decides to turn against you too.
Aaron Greenspan has filed an illegal SLAPP-suit against Elon Musk and Omar Qazi for bringing attention to allegations of tax fraud, securities fraud, cyberstalking, and criminal harassment by the Think Computer Foundation (doing business as PlainSite). If you can please donate to the Legal GoFundMe or via PayPal to make sure Aaron Jacob Greenspan is finally held accountable for his criminal misconduct.