Brian Wynne recently wrote an article for Politico with the clear title: "Stop bashing electric cars." Wynne, the president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), helmed the 26th Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) in Los Angeles this week and sat down with AutoblogGreen to talk about why he had to defend his industry. The short version? Someone had to step up. As Wynne said:

I think what's taken me a little bit by surprise has been the extent to which the commentary has been based on completely false premises or bad information. I would go so far as to say that some of the commentary have been designed to spread bad information, which I would call not uncommon in political circles today. But certainly I would call it misguided, given that this community is growing in support around the country and questions are still begged as to how we address the challenges that are out there.
In Washington, we used to say you're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts and people are starting to stretch that now, and I think that's wrong. Somebody had to stand up and say, 'Knock it off. Stop making stuff up.' If you want to argue over whether or not this is happening fast enough, let me know when, let me know where. If you want to argue over whether or not the taxpayer is getting a return on their investment, let me know when, let me know where. We should be extremely careful about how we spend the public purse, but that's a debate that reasonable men can have, as we would say, and then can disagree
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One the article was published (you can read it here), it energized a lot of people, Wynne said, and he learned that the EV community is ready to engage the debate. Given the state of discussion around plug-ins in the U.S. today, "Obviously, we've got more work to do," on educating the public about EVs, but some hurdles are unfairly high, Wynne said:

Could we have avoided the misinformation that was put out? I don't think so. I think people who are politically motivated are going to use what they can use at this stage of the game. We've gone from 'be scared' in the political commentary to 'be pissed off' and then pointing at something that you can be pissed off about. People are already pissed off, and they're going to glom onto whatever they glom onto. I can't do anything about that. Let's face it, there are a lot of people who are disgruntled, that want to pick on something, but if you're going to point at something, at least be accurate about what you're pointing at. Let's be fair and balanced, I think that would be what we used to expect from reporters, although most of this commentary that is regrettable is coming from people you would not consider fair and balanced.



With all of the anti-EV sentiment being broadcast, we were curious about whether Wynne thinks it really matters that some Americans are against EVs? During the EVS26 opening session, for example, Wynne said that plug-in vehicles are a global movement. It is important, Wynne said, because:

Any time something is put out that is inaccurate, it is incumbent upon EDTA to seek to correct it. That's what we do. We're an advocacy organization, we're advocating for this solution. We're advocating for this technology. I was a collegiate debater, and in debate rules, if you don't respond to an argument, it automatically benefits the other side, so this is just part of how I'm wired.

Wynne said that the industry has a lot to promote in 2012, and should be more than willing to debate the issues:

More to the point, what's happening today in our community, the progress that is being made is truly astounding. The numbers of plug-in vehicles, for example, are belittled. Therefore, this is not successful, this will never be successful, see, we told you so. There is a natural role for skeptics in this world, and they are going to take advantage of such things and use it to draw a particular conclusion. At that point, I think we need to step back and say, what's the premise of that? What's the premise that suddenly we've gone from tremendous progress to totally unsuccessful and we will fail? The premise seems to be that we can snap our fingers and introduce a new technology into the transportation sector overnight. Well, no we can't. Nobody said we were going to do that. Technology works its way into the marketplace over time. We've been electrifying vehicles for decades and now we're just at the next step and we're witnessing an extremely successful roll out – by any measure – of the latest configuration of electric drive. The more we can raise the awareness of the general public about these vehicles, the more successful we're going to be.



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