Aston Martin Linked To Study Spreading Misinformation About EVs

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Auke Hoekstra, who researches electric vehicles at The Eindhoven University of Technology and NEON Research, and whose specialty lies in comparing CO2 emissions of EVs with fossil fuel vehicles, just debunked a study claiming that EVs needed to go 48,000 miles before emitting less CO2 than fossil fuel vehicles.

There’s more. That same study was shown to have been linked to Aston Martin through the company Clarendon Communications, which was just created in 2020. The link was found by BloombergNEF Founder Michael Liebreich.

Let’s begin with Hoekstra’s Twitter thread debunking the study that claimed it took 48,000 miles for EVs to emit less CO2 than gasoline cars. You may remember my article back in September mentioning Hoekstra, who co-authored a study that proved a Tesla Model 3 emits 65% less CO2 than a Mercedes C-Class.

This new study, Decarbonising Road Transport: There Is No Silver Bullet, was put forth by Clarendon Communications — you can see their information on the final page at the bottom.

An article published by The Times cited the study in the article “Electric Cars Only Greener Than Petrol After 50,000 Miles” — “Electric cars have to travel as far as 50,000 miles to match the carbon footprint of a petrol model because of the massive amount of energy consumed during the production process, according to research,” the article stated in its leading paragraph. The following paragraph stated that creating EVs generates high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Hoekstra pointed out that there weren’t any researchers involved in the study from what he could tell and that it looked more like a group of lobbyists and a PR firm came together to create a brochure for their list of sponsors. “A who’s who of anti-EV organizations,” he tweeted. The study, utilizing marketing tactics, covers internal combustion engine (ICE) emissions, EV emissions, and biofuel emissions while underestimating ICE emissions by a bit less than 50% by “substituting reality with laboratory tests and forgetting fuel production.”

How This Is Linked To Aston Martin

Hoekstra’s thread, which you can read in full here, led to online sleuthing and the discovery of ties to the luxury carmaker Aston Martin. Michael Liebreich, CEO of Liebreich Associates and Founder of New Energy Finance, which was bought by Bloomberg and renamed Bloomberg New Energy Finance and now just BloombergNEF, is the one who found the link. He pointed out that Clarendon Communications was just registered in February 2020 and that it only had one director. Diving into its website, he noted that not only was the director not listed, but Aston Martin is one of its two clients.

Its other client is Robert Bosch, and the Twitter account linked is inactive while redirecting potential followers to BoschUK. Robert Bosch, GmbH, also known as Bosch, is an engineering and tech company that specializes in injection technology and powertrain for ICE engines, among many other things.

Liebreich also found Clarendon’s LinkedIn page, which doesn’t have any staff linked to it at all. He also shared that the company’s page was set up in early 2020. So, this company was recently started and it appears one of its first orders of business (if not its first) was to put out a study that published a lot of misinformation about electric vehicles. Hmm, suspicious.

On the LinkedIn page, there are only 6 posts. The most recent one is a share by Aston Martin’s Director of Global Government and Corporate Affairs. Liebreich pointed out that this could be a “sock-puppet PR company” that was set up to spread misinformation about the environmental performance of EVs in general, and a competitor’s EV in particular.

After doing more digging, Liebreich discovered, from Land Registry, the registered address of Clarendon Communications … and it just so happens to be Aston Martin’s Director of Government and External Affairs!

So, let’s recap: A news story claimed it takes 50,000 miles for EVs to earn back their embodied emissions, and that report turned out to be something published by a PR company whose property is owned by Aston Martin’s Director of Government Affairs.

Liebreich, of course, had a list of questions, such as this one: Did Aston Martin pay Clarendon Communications?

Another question Liebreich asked: Did MP Matt Western, who wrote the forward for the study, know that Clarendon Communications is linked with Aston Martin? Liebreich asked in his tweet, “Matt, do you now distance yourself from this report and its fake figures?”

Liebreich also wanted to know if the other supporters of the report knew just how closely linked Claredon Communications is with Aston Martin. “And now that Auke Hoekstra has debunked the figures and I have exposed Claredon Communications as a sock-puppet for Aston Martin, will Telegraph, The Times, DailyMailUK and others which carried the story give equal prominence to a retraction?”

Bosch, The Other Client, Isn’t So Innocent Either

It should be noted that Bosch had a key role in the Volkswagen emissions scandal back in 2015. In 2019, MarketWatch reported that Bosch, which produces a wide variety of auto parts and is also a broader tech company, was fined $100 million for its role in the diesel emissions scandal. Bosch delivered millions of engine control systems that were installed on a variety of manufacturers’ cars. Prosecutors pointed out that this software “contained in part prohibited strategies” which led to cars emitting more nitrogen oxide than permitted by regulators.

Micheal Liebreich’s Thoughts

I extended an invitation on Twitter for Liebreich to share his thoughts with me on the matter and he graciously did so.

“This whole thing looks like a clumsy attempt to push back against the 2030 ban on pure ICE sales. If the government’s announced ban on pure ICE sales in 2030 [goes through], it’s hard to see Aston Martin survive as an independent car company.

“I feel desperately sorry for the Aston Martin workers. Management have totally messed up the transition — presumably distracted by the IPO a couple of years ago, they couldn’t see which way the wind was blowing. Early this year they had to shelve their plans for a pure electric model until 2025 or later. So they want to *start* selling EVs around 2030, not *stop* selling ICE’s, as per the government’s net zero plan.

“The sock-puppet PR company run by the wife of the Director of Government Affairs reads as comedy. But in reality this is a tragedy. This is a story of leaders so convinced of their world view they miss all the warning signs of transition until it’s too late, and now they are getting desperate. But the real losers risk being the Aston Martin workers, who have done nothing wrong.”

I Have Some Questions For Aston Martin

I reached out via email to Aston Martin’s Director of Communications, but so far I haven’t received a response. If he does give a comment, this article will be updated. However, I have a few questions I’d like to put out there either way.

It should be noted that Aston Martin’s press team probably isn’t aware of this link, neither its employees, with the exception of the director noted above. So, as you read this, please keep that in mind and remember to stay compassionate for those who simply work for the company but aren’t involved in the misleading anti-EV PR.

My Questions:

1. If this is true and Aston Martin is indeed behind the company Clarendon Communications, is Aston Martin intentionally spreading misinformation about EVs?

2. If the answer to the above question is yes, could this be due to the fact that Aston Martin was unable to create its own EVs due to “financial issues?”

3. If the answer to Question 1 was yes but 2 was no, did Aston Martin use any type of its own money to create Clarendon Communications?

4. If any of the above questions are answered yes, is the reason that Aston Martin had for creating Clarendon Communications solely for the purpose of spreading misinformation about EVs, and is it threatened by Tesla’s advancement in battery technology?

5. If all the above questions are no and Aston Martin had absolutely nothing to do with Clarendon Communications and its creation, its study, will Aston Martin cut ties with the company?

Final Thoughts

These questions may seem a bit harsh or direct, but considering that Aston Martin is linked with Clarendon Communications and that Liebriech showed just how this was so, these are valid questions and need to be addressed.

I really think that these attacks against EVs are direct attacks from a dying industry that is refusing to evolve. They’d apparently rather fight the change that is coming than jump into a transformation, but if they continue to do so, they’re going to lose.

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider