Politicians, including British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, aren't known for their love of plug-in cars.

Whoops! British Liberal Democrats Make Electric Car Foley Folly in New Election Campaign Ad

British Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg hasn’t had much success with electric cars.

First, days after gushing about a new initiative from the coalition government designed to get more people behind the wheel of electric cars, the UK politician stated that electric cars weren’t suitable for his family’s needs, perpetuating the myth that electric cars were too small for many families.

Don't worry: your BMW i3 won't go 'brum' when you turn it on.

Don’t worry: your BMW i3 won’t go ‘brum’ when you turn it on.

Now, his campaign staff have shown their ignorance of plug-in vehicles by publishing a campaign video ahead of next month’s national election that shows a BMW i3 making the kind of noises you’d expect from a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle.

Sadly, it was published just a few days before this morning’s proud announcement by the Liberal Democrats in its party manifesto that if elected, it would establish a “full network of charging points for electric cars, only allowing low emission vehicles on the roads from 2040.”

While it seems to want to support electric cars however, it’s clear that the party’s hired production company — specifically its foley department — aren’t quite sure what an electric car sounds like.

In typical political broadcast fashion, the video — entitled ‘Look Left, Look Right’ — focuses on the mistakes the Liberal Democrats claim both the Labour and Conservative party have made in the past and will make in the future if elected into office.

The video centres on a woman driving a BMW i3 electric car through a quiet city scape at night, switching through various radio stations as she goes. Every station, as you might expect, is either a political call-in show where ‘listeners’ voice their scripted grievances, or an equally scripted news report detailing some failure or other by one of the Liberal Democrats’ prime political adversaries.

Enough of the politics and onto the car itself.

For those who don’t know the BMW i3 is offered in two different guises: a 100 percent electric car (BMW i3 EV) and an electric car with tiny range-extending engine (BMW i3 REx). Unlike plug-in hybrids like the Toyota Prius Plug-in and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV however, the i3 REx has a tiny two-cylinder, 500cc gasoline engine whose sole purpose is to provide an additional 80 miles or so of range on longer trips or when the car’s battery pack has unexpectedly ran out. It’s designed as a last-choice effort to help owners get to the next charging station.

The BMW i3 is completely electric, while the BMW i3 REx has a tiny gasoline engine which doesn't sound like the noise in the ad.

The BMW i3 is completely electric, while the BMW i3 REx has a tiny gasoline engine which doesn’t sound like the noise in the ad.

It only ever engages when the battery pack is fully depleted, or when the owner has chosen to force the car to hold its charge for later in the trip.

As a consequence, the BMW i3, just like any other EV, simply produces a set of electronic beeps and chimes when switched on. It doesn’t produce the sound of a starter motor turning over a gasoline engine, as the video shows. Nor is there a noise of a gasoline engine accelerating away as you leave a stop light — another sound added post-production to the end of the video from this mysterious gasoline-powered plug-in.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a foley team — whose sole purpose it is to add sound effects in post-production to a film, TV show or video — have accidentally added sound to an electric car. Last year, CBS’ famous 60-minutes show included a feature on Tesla Motors and its CEO Elon Musk.

Its sound design team added the noise of a high-pitched gasoline engine running at full bore to a video of an all-electric Tesla Model S running through a long Norwegian tunnel.

60 Minutes made a bit of a foley faux-pas last year.

60 Minutes made a bit of a foley faux-pas last year, adding a healthy V8 to a Tesla Model S in post-production.

That faux pas, which we attributed to a late-night in the edit suite, generated quite a lot of attention. Given the place in which this new foley fail has occurred, we’re guessing the Liberal Democrats will gain their own negative press.

But there’s one more mistake we can’t help but point out in this political broadcast, which appeared on Television on Monday evening. During most of the shots, we can’t see the woman behind the steering wheel wearing a seatbelt, something that’s required under British law.

While the seatbelt stays out of the shot for most of the video, it suddenly — and noticeably — appears just in time to stop the wayward driver from heading through the windscreen, before disappearing again at the end of the short.

Our advice? Always wear your seatbelt, and if you’re going to make a campaign video, make sure it makes complete sense both visually and auditorily.

[Hat-tip: Mr. Jaffar]


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  • leptoquark

    Funny. Maybe it’s an option, like the personal dome light built into the sunvisor?

    • Michael Thwaite

      LOL Well spotted, the one that blinds the driver with glitzy sparkly glare that meant she didn’t see the Blue Micra of Tory Cuts. BTW, shouldn’t she have waited for the green instead of pulling out on an amber?

  • D. Harrower

    Funny for sure, but understandable.nnnThe i3 REx DOES have a gas engine, after all. Unless someone was intimately familiar with the operation of the car, they’d have no real reason to think it would behave different.nnnHowever, there is no excuse for the 60 Minutes gaff with the Model S (which has no gas engine at all).

  • Michael Cooke

    She is also twiddling the heating temperature knob in order to adjust the radio!

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