A letter to the BBC.

This morning the BBC ran a news story about the new green vehicles awarded a governmental award for their enviornmentally friendly credentials. The vehicles included the iMiev, the Lightning and the OEM Toyota Plug in Prius.

While it’s always good to get positive press in the EV world it’s really frustrating when a news organisation like the BBC don’t bother to check their facts. The news item touted the Plug in Prius as a “Fully electric car” and claimed that the iMiev was the first EV with four seats.

I’m sorry, BBC, but EPIC FAIL.


(I’ll post links when the article finally gets online – but at the moment there’s no links)


Below is my rather curt email to the BBC.  I think it’s rather ranty. But then I can’t unsend it now so…



Thanks to the BBC for covering the story today on a new generation of eco vehicles, but as an Electric Vehicle advocate and plug in hybrid driver I have to point out some glaring mistakes with your report!

Firstly, the Toyota Prius is NOT fully electric. It’s a plug in Hybrid. Toyota have produced their current Plug In Hybrid (which is only a fleet test vehicle, by the way) as a regular petrol-powered hybrid which also has a larger capacity battery and can plug in. It can travel about 8 miles in all electric mode but then uses the petrol engine to travel along.

My Prius is a DIY converted plug in Prius which I converted myself using available parts. It cost me £3,000 to upgrade to a plug in Prius and I drive it daily. http://www.nikkidrives.tv

Your reporter also insinuated that it’s only recently that electric vehicles have had small enough batteries to have four seats. I’d like to draw your attention to my friend’s Golf City Stromer, which at 27 years old is able to carry five passengers and also travel over 50 miles on a charge. Take a peek at http://www.evalbum.com/2656 . It’s on the roads of Bristol, being used as a daily commuter.

There’s also the famous RAV4 EV, which was produced by Toyota for several years at the latter half of the 1990s and early part of this century. Several hundred survived the crushing of the electric car in California when the Zero Emissions program was dropped. The RAV4 EVs which remain are now approaching ten years old and have over 100,000 miles on them in many cases. They’re a full size electric SUV! Check out http://www.evnut.com/rav_owner_gallery.htm

Finally, the mixed messages at the end of the report concerning how power is generated and how efficient electric vehicles are didn’t really clarify the situation. Energy can’t be created. It’s only transferred from one place to another. Electric vehicles, like their gasoline counterparts, consume energy. In electric vehicles the power is consumed from power derived from many sources, including coal and oil fired power stations. But, because of the scale at which electricity is produced, a kilowatt hour of electricity produced in a power station will produce less emissions than an equivalent petrol engine. Batteries are also very recyclable. A lead based battery can be 99% recycled. Nickel and Lithium batteries have a much longer life-span and are also regularly recycled.

The message from today’s story was very mixed.

I’m really pleased that the BBC are finally taking electric transport seriously, but please, check your facts and get a reporter with an interest or a background in electric vehicles / alternative fuels before you run a story! There are folks out there (like me, for example) who make a living out of electric vehicle journalism. I podcast, blog and educate in the world of plug in vehicles and I have helped people make appropriate choices about how they can change their transport for a greener future.

Why not check things out with those who know the area? You’d not dream of doing a story on farming without a farming pundit, so please bring in appropriate pundits to discuss green transport!


Nikki Bloomfield.



Add yours →

  1. Alexander Lopez June 23, 2009 — 12:14 pm

    Well, this letter doesn’t seem to be a rant at all! It’s concise, straightforward, and full of links to check out your claims. I’d only change the last paragraph’s content to offer your own expertise the next time they need some EV-related information.On a side note, I like to the work you have been doing with the EVcast! Yours has been a very welcomed addition to the podcast, and one I’m always eager to hear. Plus, I learned English when I was just a toddler by using a BBC books-and-cassettes course, so your unmistakable accent brings me back to those (bygone) years, hehe.Have a warm hug from tropical Venezuela. Bye…


  2. I’d love to see the offending report. Is it available on the net? As a software entrepreneur, I have had limited interaction with the media and always ended up disappointed with the amount of errors they would make. They basically made up facts supporting whatever thesis they happen to be pushing. Finally, I understood that today’s journalist is underpaid, overworked and has no time for in depth quality investigations. Therefore, I’ve taken the habit of preparing PDFs explaining my products, explain the fundamental of the problem they are trying to solve. They also like having a list of expert users (like yourself) they can contact for additional quotes.We E.V enthusiasts have to prepare such documents and make them widely available to the press so they can stop making the same mistakes. For now Wikipedia & PlugInAmerica’s web site are the only resource that try to give an overview of the EV world.What do you think?


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