After hearing Frank Langfitt’s report on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition yesterday morning I quickly realized two things.
1. Frank doesn’t know too much about electric cars and didn’t do much research before recording his segment.
2. Frank doesn’t like electric cars very much and doesn’t want you to either.
I immediately began to wonder why. Why was Frank hating on EVs? What’s behind Frank’s bete noir car thing with EV’s? Why did he call his report, “Electric Cars Still Years Away?” Does he really believe that fairy tale?
This was a mystery that only the Greenius could solve.
So I started asking the detective questions as I began my official investigation. For instance, why was Frank trying to make folks worried about how much the battery for the car costs? No one seems too worried about how much the internal combustion engine (ICE) inside their current greenhouse gas producing car costs as an individual component, or the transmission, or the drive train.
But Frank’s worried about how much the batteries cost and how much they weigh, and how much room they take up in the trunk. Frank has got himself a battery fixation but he doesn’t seem to know that some folks have over 160,000 miles on the battery powered RAV-4 EVs that are still going strong after many years on the road. Maybe Frank is battery biased because of his cell phone or laptop or his digital audio recorder letting him down. Maybe Frank’s just not that into batteries.
Then my next question – How come Frank didn’t mention that electric cars don’t just not use gasoline, they also don’t use motor oil and never need oil changes or filter changes. They don’t ever need tune ups because they have no spark plugs or collaborators or any of that other crap. You’re not going to need transmission fluid or any of the other costly and pain-in-the-ass maintenance that their current ICE car does. But Frank doesn’t mention any of that in his National Public Radio Hates EVs Report.
Frank talked about how expensive EV cars are going to be but he didn’t do the real math. He didn’t subtract the maintenance costs you’ll no longer have, including things like smog checks too. None of those things to go wrong either, in fact a whole lot less to go wrong since the electric car has about a handful of moving parts compared to over 1000 in a gas powered car.
And how come Frank had the unique experience of EVs being slow off the line? Everyone knows electric cars have great torque and zoom off the line. Maybe the Ford Focus prototype he took a test ride in isn’t like all the other electric cars I’ve ridden in.
Or maybe the guy driving the car was babying it because he knew Frank was biased… or scared of new things.
The Focus is supposed to get 100 miles to a charge, but Frank is very worried about where people are going to plug in their cars. Frank didn’t mention anything about the different cities like Portland and San Jose to name a couple who are building the first wave of plug in infrastructure.
He also didn’t have a word to say about the coming smart grid or vehicle to grid connections. Maybe Frank is in the dark on those.
Frank also didn’t have any news to report or information to share about how electric car batteries can be the solution to storing solar and wind energy when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.
And in the biggest mysterious cover up of all, Frank went radio silent on how necessary the switch to electric cars is to start cutting the deadly CO2 emissions that gasoline powered cars produce with every mile they drive. Doesn’t Frank know we need to start reducing those emissions yesterday?
Frank didn’t mention the Tesla Roadster or their new Tesla S sedan which will be rolled out next month. Frank probably doesn’t even know about the AC Propulsion eBox, the Fisker Automotive Karma, the new Mitsubishi iMiEV, the Mini Electric car, Nissan’s new EV line or any of the other electric cars I’ve been tracking for the past couple of years.
And Frank was similarly clueless about the new EV Nissan that’s rolling out at the end of 2010 in lucky Tenn, Oregon and Sonoma County, Calif. I don’t think Frank knows that car is a production model and will cost Americans only $22,500 after the new tax credits ($7,500) that were just signed by President Obama.
So why is Frank giving us such horseshit about EVs instead of decent reporting and accurate information? After my exhaustive investigation I now have the answers and they’re both simple and horrifying.
The first reason is that the Electric cars don’t make any sound. They’re so silent, deaf people are concerned about them. So quiet that one accessory for electric cars is a CD that makes car noises. And Frank makes his living in the world of sound. In radio, where cars are identified by the sound of their engines and all the other engine related noise.
With a silent EV there’s no car heard in the audioscape. It’s invisible to the ear. So radio Frank has no use for them and he doesnt’ want you to consider buying one. That’s why Frank tells listeners that these cars are years and years away from considering.
Then there’s the “Click N Clack” factor, as in Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the hosts of the single most listened to show on NPR, “Car Talk.”
The show is all about people calling in with their gasoline powered car problems so Click and Clack can make fun of their cars and then give them a suggested fix. I love this show and hearing those guys crack each other up. But when we’re all driving electric cars you can stick a fork in Car Talk because it will be done.
Who wants to listen to one call after another saying, “This is the best car I’ve ever owned. It’s the most reliable and the most fun to drive. I never have any problems with it?”
So there you have it. Now we know why Frank and NPR overall is hating on EVs and why his reporting is so far off base. Shocking? Yes. But true? You bet it is.
But you don’t have to rely on the unfrank Frank to clue you in. You have the Creative Greenius and the entire EV Driven Community I belong to. That’s where you’ll find the truth and learn something.
Just from my own humble blog alone you can read the following:
Electrified Blondes In Convertibles For Everyone
Greetings From Plugged-In San Jose
Electrifying Day at Plug-In 2008
Professor Frank Has Given Birth – Day 3 at Plug-In 2008
Top Ten Things I Learned at Plug-In 2008
Your Creative Greenius has been a member-supporter of National Public Radio since 1981. I listen to Morning Edition seven days a week no matter where I am. I love NPR.
But NPR doesn’t know squat about electric cars and you shouldn’t count on them to give you the straight scoop.
You should listen to Frank’s six minutes of dopiness to hear for yourself just how unplugged he wants you to be when it comes to your next car. Hopefully your battery powered radio won’t crap out before you get to the end and won’t play Frank’s voice t-o-o s–l—o—-w—–l——-y.
4 thoughts on “Why NPR Hates Electric Cars – A Greenius Expose”
Yo Greenius, I, too, have listened to and supported NPR for lo, these many years. However, much as I enjoy their shows, it has been many, many years since I’ve relied on them for actual, factual news-type information. So I’m not at all surprised about unfrank Frank. NPR reporters aren’t really about ‘investigating’, they’re about entertaining.
Well then Frank failed on that count too, Rev, because I don’t find this stuff amusing anymore.
Maybe it’s a Fairness Doctrine thing…
Okay… I might buy that since on a scale of poor/fair/average/good/excellent at best Frank’s piece was fair. But in terms of being accurate or complete is was very unfair.
It makes my blood boil when I hear reporters in a position of a perceived authority spread harmful disinformation like this. If Frank was telling use that he thinks Polio vaccine shots are bad and you should get one, the FCC might pull him right in on the carpet. But putting down EVs flies under the radar for most Americans still. We still like to kill the Savior I guess. Keep up the good work here on this site!
I am all for clean and alternative energy, but Car Talk actually just did a story on how much cleaner electric vehicles are, even in places where coal is the primary source of electricity.
And, I myself have had my head bashed in by talk radio hosts (namely Bill Wattenburg) when even *asking* about alternative methods for things like cars and aircraft (I’m a pilot, so naturally curious in that regard).
I realize I’m almost a year and a half late to your post, but here’s what I found: