Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wente borrows headline, omits facts, in criticism of McGuinty electric car plan

Margaret Wente slams Dalton McGuinty’s electric car initiative with this California example: “Costco… has pulled the plug on its electric car-charging stations…because nobody uses them”. Given the similarity to an article titled “Costco pulls the plug on electric vehicle charging stations”, it’s odd that Wente withholds the relevant facts – that Costco’s 1990s era chargers are useless and outdated, and that companies like McDonald's are installing modern chargers to service booming sales of current electric cars. (As Green Car Reports writes: “Be on the lookout for silly, misleading articles that claim electric-car demand is ebbing, that plug-ins are a failure in the marketplace… it's simply not true.”)

According to the Daily Mail, “Costco chargers around Los Angeles stopped working years ago”. Built for the famously scrapped GM EVs, “Costco outlets are outdated by current standards” and would need major upgrades to power the Leaf, Volt, or Prius. But Wente doesn’t tell us this.

More relevant than one obsolete Costco example are the new McDonald’s and Macy’s stations - compatible with new electrics. And Time Magazine writes that Walgreens, IKEA, and convenience store chains will do the same. Mr. McGuinty is following the lead of companies with good business records. But again, Wente won’t tell us this.

We expect regular eco-trashing and McGuinty-bashing from Ms. Wente, but there is an election going on in Ontario, and it behooves the Globe and Mail to provide readers with facts relevant to his policies. In addition, Wente’s suggestion that Costco’s decision indicates lack of demand for current Nissan, Toyota and GM electric products is misleading and should be clarified.