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What is it with ZZZZZZZ?

The most unexpected experience I've had since I first had a ride in a 21st century car 10 years ago was that this new branch of technology would cause such distress and anger among a small section of the global population.

Take for example, this comment from the previous posting on this blog. It is from someone who is sadly too scared to leave their name, so they refer to themselves as zzzz. Other than that rather glaring admission of bullying cowardice, this individual is full of righteous anger and finger pointing hatred.

“I love it when eco-berks such as yourself and the gorgeous George Monbiot throw a wobbly on their favourite issue of smoke, mirrors and conjecture, which easily fits in with their main objectives, the destruction of Western consumer capitalism and private transport (hey, that's not my opinion, that's what Caroline Lucas wants). Of course, you neglect to mention the other issues brought up like recharge time, unpredictability of range (you touch upon it, alas in a very naive and optimistic way), increasing electricity costs (which will happen as the country and the world transitions to ETS ponzi schemes and inefficient wind turbines) and having to rip up existing transport infrastructure in order to make way for the Clean Green Utopia. I regret buying the Red Dwarf DVDs. Should have just downloaded them and not given any of the money I would have spent to someone like you.”

(ETS stands for Emissions Trading Schemes, I had to Google it. This indicates that the writer is American but I may be wrong)

We’re talking about cars here ladies and gentlemen, we’re not talking nuclear weapons or communism, we’re not talking racial politics or gay marriage, we’re talking cars. Machines made in factories by big, multi national corporations.

As I stood looking at the T-Zero electric prototype in 2001, I could not have thought to myself ‘Blimey, this is a left wing car, the right wing nutters are going to go apeshit when this hits the streets.'

The notion of politics would not have entered my head for a moment. And yet, the extreme right, and let’s face it, as the developed world has lurched so far to the right it’s resulted in angry white men have lurching ever further right to differentiate themselves from the mass, this distressed minority have leveled their fury at electric cars. Oh yes, and inefficient wind turbines, they really hate wind turbines, although interestingly they never mention inefficient solar panels.

But the right wing white men (and let’s face it, they all are white men) are mightily upset by any criticism of their beloved leader. Mr Clarkson has had a right old duffing up this week. Bish bash bosh, the press have had a field day. Indeed Mr Monbiot (a passionate pro-nuclear advocate) did have a bit of a pop at the BBC and Mr C for the silly pranks. But he was not alone, just about every paper mentioned that yet again they ‘obfuscated the truth’ and went to great lengths to paint as bleak a picture as was possible of any form of alternative to good old petrol and diesel, (I include hydrogen in that mix as fossil fuel is where hydrogen will come from)

Three years ago when I was critical of Top Gear’s truth obfuscated review of the Tesla, the majority of comments I received were very pro the series and very anti my analysis.

This time, the tide has indeed turned.

There are reams of comments all over the internet finally questioning Top Gear, and by default, the BBC’s bizarrely biased reporting on this subject. I don’t for one moment think the noise will affect the show or the BBC’s stout defense of it. I don’t want Top Gear to change, I desperately want them to continue their ill informed criticism of electric vehicles. It’s one of the best things that can happen to encourage the uptake of this technology.

I heard a very interesting fact from a high ranking employee of an international car manufacturer. Top Gear did a scathing review of one of their economy diesel models and In the weeks that followed the sales of the car went off the charts, they could not keep up with the demand. Counter intuitively when, on another episode TG gave a glowing review of one of their high-end sports models, the sales of this car collapsed, they even had some existing orders cancelled.

By the way, I’m thrilled zzzzzz bought Red Dwarf DVD’s, I’m going out to waste the money on more renewableinfrastructure :-)



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Reader Comments (36)

You are a very smug man indeed Mr Llewellyn. Very, very smug. Let's hope smugness changes the world, eh?

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames Burchill

Having read Monbiot's piece in The Guardian and your own apparent belief in the open and shut case against Top Gear in this latest kerfuffle it would be tempting to think that the middle aged chaps have shot it. But then I read your amazing claims (under Monbiot's piece) which amount to saying that Top Gear are in the pay of Shell. Can you back this up or is it attack by innuendo? I would hate for you to be talking as much bollocks as they sometimes do.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Smith

The fact that this zzzz person has used the phrase "smoke, mirrors and conjecture" pretty much sums up for me the right wing sheep bleat typical of this kind of discourse. The phrase is unoriginal and overused, and even fits in snugly with the 'a,b, and c' pattern of description that any writer in their right (write?) mind seeks to avoid. It is devoid of originality and thought, in exactly the same way that this zzzz person's opinion of the electric car is.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine Clarke

People like ZZZZZ are perhaps scared of electric cars etc. largely because it represents a huge change in their eyes and they are not thinking about improving efficiency of an automobile or clean air, they associate green technology with liberalism. The petrol car has been around for so long and been part of a lot of (especially males) lives, that they think that abandoning it will be letting go of a past in which they feel safe and secure. They see it as an attack on their values and way of life. They are behaving irrationally, albeit human. Which is a bit bizarre thing to do. Politics shouldn't come into it. An electric car is a consumable, that is all.
Electric cars and 'green' energy is the way of the future - you can't stop progress, so those who have a bee in their bonnet should let the bee go, because it will only make them miserable as the world evolves. Petrol car has had its day, we gotta adapt to the environment.

Jimmy out.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDr James

Meh. Some people don't like (the idea of) electric vehicles. They say they won't buy them (or they think they won't), They come up with all sorts of reasons not to buy one. They then come up with an astonishing number of fatuous reasons for other people not to buy them.

That's fair enough. People are allowed to be stupid, even if they have no experience whatsoever of what they are discussing.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVoyager03

It makes me laugh when people write comments like the one you quoted. While the technology is available to buy for anyone, it is still very much a new technology that hasn't had much chance to yet mature. How can people be so critical of something that is not yet mainstream enough for everyone to use?

I live in a flat which makes it hard to think of owning an EV just yet (I don't even have my own parking space), but I dream of the day I could own one, and perhaps park it on my driveway and have it charge by wireless electricity overnight.

Battery technology will improve, costs will come down, charge points will become more common, and there will always be fast petrol cars for many years to come for those die hards. People just need to chill out and realise that there's more to this world that oil, and sit back and let the tech mature for the mass market, and then reap the benefits that'll follow, such as cleaner air, not relying on petrol pumps (Yay for home charging!), lower maintenance cars, improvements to battery tech that'll help almost all of consumer technology etc etc etc.


August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBen

I would agree with your assessment that ZZZZZ is an American, as am I. Our preponderance of hysterical right wing-nuts gets their entire world view from Fox News and its covey of talking heads. I am a little puzzled by this group's hatred of anything ecological. My theory is that they automatically associate it with Al Gore, who, of course, they hate with all the righteous umbrage they can muster. Keep on with your smugness (I loved that silly comment) Mr. Llewellyn, you will have the last laugh. Who knows, someday our right wing-nuts may break the hypnotic hold of Mr. Murdoch’s empire.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Horton

@Steve Smith

"But then I read your amazing claims (under Monbiot's piece) which amount to saying that Top Gear are in the pay of Shell." If you go to Top Gear Live - http://www.topgearlive.com/ - you will notice Shell as one of their partners.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Ruddell

This is an interesting post re anonymity, interesting reading.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterM

When I first started following certain blogs years ago, I was perplexed by the inevitable presence of so many naysayers, who were usually among the very first to comment. I mean, most people barely have time to pursue their interests on the internet, let alone waste it on things that they loathe. Why are they even reading this particular blog, for crying out loud, if they despise the subject so much? I mean, how many vegetarian bloggers frequent barbecue web sites?

I inquired about this once, and was shocked by the answer. Those people are "sockpuppets," actually paid by companies to purposely post criticism and disinformation about competitors --always anonymously, of course. In fact, these sockpuppets often use "web crawler" programs that alert them daily of anything and everything posted about their intended targets, and sometimes their software even suggests a scripted comment from a database of negative responses, which the sockpuppets can then quickly edit, changing a few nouns, verbs, and adjectives to make it seem more specific.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if ZZZZ is one of those paid sockpuppets, evidently scouring the web under various usernames to decry EVs and lambast their supporters.

What a world, what a world...!

Steve Smith
I point you here sir,


it is not innuendo, it is simple, open, public fact. As I said in my comment, there is nothing wrong with it, it's obvious that they should be sponsored by a multi national oil company.

August 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterRobert Llewellyn

@Robert and Keith

That Shell sponsor Top Gear Live is indeed not news. But you don't seem to be stopping there. Are you saying that Top Gear are therefore required to let this affect editorial policy? Are you saying it affects editorial policy in any way? Please be clear and unambiguous about this chaps. It wouldn't look good if you suddenly went all mealy-mouthed about it.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Smith

I was going to suggest that the best response to Top Gear would be to be install a fast charge point in Lincoln. But before I wrote this comment I did a little Google search and found that Nissan are a few steps ahead of me. They are installing a dual charging point in Lincoln dedicated to Clarkson and May and it will be installed by the end of the month!

The car industry is clearly responding to the negative press through taking action. No longer is the argument that these cars are basically golf carts, because they no longer are. And now we are seeing that–unlike with the hydrogen solution–installing the infrastructure for electric cars is going to be relatively easy to scale from the ground up; so the destruction of another criticism is nigh. There's more to prove still, but the future of the electric car is looking ever more promising.

That's Nissan that is at work destroying these negative arguments. Which is a company, of course. Although there are a lot of politics involved here, it is nice to see that the very capitalism wet liberals like yourself are accused of wanting to destroy, is actually starting to win the argument for the electric car.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Pritt

@Steve Smith,

If the fact of Shell sponsoring Top Gear Live is not news to you, then why would you ask about it? Are you a sock puppet?

While I'm no expert on how advertising affects editorial policy, here is a quote from an organization who is, "To maintain its independence and impartiality, CU accepts no outside advertising and no free samples". From the following link http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/aboutus/mission/overview/index.htm

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Ruddell

I'm still LMAOing about regretting buying Red Dwarf DVDs. Be sure to spend my contribution on something frivolous, I'll be mortified if I find out you're saving up for a wind turbine!
*still laughing*

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterM


You said: "If the fact of Shell sponsoring Top Gear Live is not news to you, then why would you ask about it?"

Simple: I want to be clear exactly what you are alleging so I can make my own mind up. I suspect you will not have the guts to allege anything at all preferring, instead, to sneer and smear with a good dose of "They're sponsored by Shell ya know, oi, oi, nudge, nudge, wink, wink."

Such would look good coming from a man knowingly given free EVs to drive. Not even a pretence of "impartiality" there. Stone cold funded by the EV makers.

So at the very worst Mr Llewellyn would be saying they are no worse than...himself.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Smith

I don't want to get into a row here but I can't help wondering if there's a connection between Shell developing hydrogen as an alternative fuel and TG discrediting EVs.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterM

I just realized how spoiled much of the opposition is when talking about unpredictable range. They seem to have forgotten what cars were like 10 years ago, something I haven't seen mentioned in any of the debates or discussions.

I still drive a '97 Honda Odyssey (the family car), which is still in great condition, and it doesn't tell me how much range I have left. It just has the meter showing how full the tank is. For some odd reason it won't get more fuel when going downhill or braking, and it gradually loses fuel for no reason while stopped in traffic, and like all cars it seems to use more fuel for the same distance when driving more aggressively (making the range less predictable).

Every week or two, while still in the garage, I get range (and wallet) anxiety when I notice the fuel gauge is in the red because the previous person to drive it (maybe me) didn't want to reroute to the nearest gas station and spend ~$100 to fill it. Fortunately we've been careful enough and the gauge has enough threshold that it has never run out, which I expect would easily carry over to electric cars. In fact, I think an analog fuel gauge and the lack of the car predicting range, which induces uncertainty earlier, makes people more cautious and less likely to run out of juice.

Gas stations just aren't fun/healthy places to be or as convenient as the home garage or a parking space next to a building (with friendly owners who let you use their usually outdoor outlet) where you eat, sleep, use the restroom, do business, hang out, etc.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPIlot_51

Top Gear does get EVers in a tiz doesn't it? I can't help thinking all this confrontationalism is a lose-lose. All you do is mutually re-enforce the entrenchment on both sides. Still, so long as everyone is happy in their bunker.

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames Rock

Nothing to do with the rest of your post, but I doubt 'zzzzzzz' is American. "Berk", "wobbly", "favourite", and "transport" (rather than transportation) aren't words I'd expect to see from an American. Ditto the reference to Caroline Lucas, who most Americans won't have heard of.

formerly London-dwelling American

August 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertheora

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