Ex-film star Arnold Schwarzenegger has returned to the screen to kick off a new campaign called “Kicking Gas”, starring as an undercover used car sales person trying to dissuade actual potential buyers from switching to electric.
Of course, the point of the campaign series, which is run by California-based electric car advocacy organisation Veloz as part of its “Electric for All” initiative, is to illustrate the how dirty, noisy and damaging to the environment gas-guzzling internal combustion engine (ICE) cars are.
As car yard customers purvey a range of zero emissions options, Arnie approaches dressed in character as “Howard Kleiner”, replete with cap, Hawaiian shirt and that unmistakable Austrian accent.
“I’m tired of spending money at the pump,” says one customer.
“I’d like to use something that could get me into the carpool lane, actually,” says another.
Others are interested in benefiting from the US tax credit, which can be up to $A7,500 depending on the manufacturer (it halves for every 200,000 new vehicles sold).
But Arnie will not have it. Bringing out a grumbling, smoking – and probably pre-emissions standards – 4WD, he yells to bemused customers, “This is testosterone. YES!”
Arnie even tries to convince one family that the electric car they are test driving is a fail because, “it’s so quiet, you hear literally everything your family says.”
The video is quite frankly, hilarious, but more importantly paints so succinctly the absolute madness in continuing to push the case for internal combustion cars.
As a new technology, there is a lot of information about the benefits of electric cars – which are quieter, do not emit exhaust or any carbon emissions, and have much, much lower running costs than ICE vehicles.
The campaign’s intention is to get these messages across using comedy to break down the barriers in the minds of people who are still clinging to a preference to cars that use fossil fuels as an energy source.
As ex-governor of California from 2003 until 2011, which is home to around half of all the 1.2 million electric cars in the US, Arnie is already known for his support of eco-friendly initiatives, having signed a number of pro-environment bills during his two terms in politics.
Towards the end of the video the 71-year-old star switches from his comedic character to share the underlying message of the previous scenes.
“Electric cars save money, time and the environment, without sacrificing any of the fun and excitement of driving,” he says.
While it must be noted that Arnie himself is partial to the odd muscle car (a quick search reveals he owns several including a Hummer), he has in the past made a point that it’s what inside the vehicle that counts.
In 2018, he had Chrysler convert a 500 horsepower Mercedes G-Wagen to electric drivetrain for a cost of $US1 million ($A1.43 million), and reportedly was so happy with the result he then had his Hummer converted.
Talking to US TV show host Jay Leno, he said, “It is not the car that is bad, it is the technology under the hood that is the polluter. Let’s improve the technology, so we can drive any car that we want.”
The Kicking Gas campaign is set to run until the end of 2019, with Veloz purchasing 34 billboard spaces along key commuter arteries in California and encouraging supporters to share the campign via a series of hashtags including #KickingGas and #electricforall.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.