Less than a month before the broadcast of the documentary film which promises to strip the controversies surrounding the electric car, Marc Muller shines the spotlight on his very scrupulous approach.
An engineer by training, Marc Muller became an adventurer-communicator in 2010-2011 by setting out around the world (18,000 km in 16 months, 1,200 kWh of consumption in total) to meet players in sustainable development. As a means of transportation: his Icarette, a modest solar vehicle that he also recharges if necessary with a back-up wind turbine. Insiders will recognize a Twike. “I had re-engineered the chassis, built the trailer that supported the solar panels,” he comments.
In the summer of 2017, with journalist Jonas Schneiter, he formed a pair for a television documentary broadcast on the Swiss channel RTSun. In “Today” we find some of the ingredients that also made the success of “C’est pas sorcier”, mainly hosted by Jamy Gourmaud and Frédéric Courant. Except there, no American diesel truck, but a 1969 Volkswagen Bus converted to electric and carrying solar panels on the roof.
Marc Muller and mobility
“I’m not particularly an advocate for electric vehicles. What interests me is ecology, soft mobility, getting around by bike. In my quest for virtuous mobility, I asked myself what part electric vehicles can play. While researching the media on the subject, I realized that what is there is not at all clear, “says Marc Muller.
“What also prompted me to do more research was the criticism we received when using our electric combi for the show. We were often told it was not eco-friendly, ”he reveals.
Film or documentary?
In a previous brief, we qualify “A Contresense” as a documentary. On the video teaser, we believe it reads “Film romanticized”. Here is Marc Muller’s definition. “In the sense that there is a real story, and that we started shooting without having our questions answered or knowing what we were going to find: it’s a movie. But since we have worked with journalists who have followed a real investigative process in the field, this is a documentary, “Marc Muller replies.
What was the most complicated during these 2 years of filming? “Access to information! We were unable to validate media reports about electric vehicles. Nor those of NGOs whose surveys oscillate between ideology and more serious quantified reports. We have also found that many scientific studies are riddled with errors. Since the beginning of the film’s distribution, scientists have even come to draw on our work, ”he reports.
“We have gone much further than all the research already undertaken on electric vehicles. And our work is the most sourced in this area. We invite you to continue viewing the documentary by following the references on which we have relied, ”he insists.
“No manufacturer wanted to open their doors to us. We have suffered refusals to testify. As we investigated, we noticed that the one who lied the most about electric vehicles is Carlos Tavares, the boss of PSA. He lied about electric vehicles, about the impact of vehicles in general on the climate. While at one time he was responsible for the EV program at Renault. He had a genuine interest in saving time. For about 1 year, he has completely changed his argument. We were to meet him at the Geneva Motor Show: he canceled at the last moment. In Frankfurt: the same! And since then he has stopped giving interviews, “observes Marc Muller.
“Tesla did not receive us either. Tesla is so far ahead of everything – technology, the environment, battery production, recycling, solar panels, etc. He does not care to communicate through us. Every year, it publishes a report for that, ”he continues.
“They are in a state of panic”
“European manufacturers really did not believe in the development of electric vehicles. It took dieselgate to move forward because they lost all political support on that occasion. This context has completely turned them upside down, ”analyzes Marc Muller. “When you start asking them about the directions taken for sustainable mobility, they all say they are doing everything right. But if you want to dig a little deeper, they can’t answer. Either out of ignorance or because they are not allowed to. Today, manufacturers are in a real state of panic, “he said.
The case of cobalt
“On the cobalt issue, we have met people who are lying, others who recognize that there is a problem but that it is on the margins, and those who are busy fixing it. Overall, the situation is not as alarmist as some would have us believe, “summarizes Marc Muller.
“The Congolese do not want to industrialize the extraction of cobalt which would not generate jobs. They are for legal artisanal mining. In this case, machines remove the thickness of the field so that the workers then move the pebbles that will allow them to each extract up to 800 kg of cobalt per day under acceptable conditions. In illegal mines, on the other hand, people in a state of extreme poverty will try with rudimentary tools to descend 20 or 30 meters underground to the ore, to at best leave between 50 and 100 kg in conditions 10 times more dangerous, ”he explains.
“This practice could pay off at first with a high price for cobalt. Which is less and less the case. In the end, the illegal exploitation in which we find children working in catastrophic conditions should end on its own, “he said.
Alert decision-makers …
“With ‘A Contresense’, we have already wanted to reach decision-makers. The right choices in sustainable mobility cannot be made with the wrong information in hand. Our film therefore touches on information, but also on democracy and social networks, “says Marc Muller. “There is something revolting about being rolled in the flour when it comes to electric vehicles, and, more generally, energy transition. The magnitude of the disinformation is mind-boggling! », He denounces.
“The film has already been premiered in Switzerland. I am really very satisfied to know that it has been watched by 100% of the players among the decision-makers in the sustainable development area, “he confides.
Good to know: Following his journey with the Icarette, Marc Muller joined the Swiss federal government in its plan to phase out nuclear energy, quickly becoming responsible for the solar sector within the energy office. . For 4 years, he worked within this framework on subsidy systems, communication measures and legislative changes in parliament. He knows these actors and decision-makers he evokes.
… and inform the public
“Since the broadcast in Switzerland, the film has been available in paid VOD. We also host debates on the subject in cinemas. Every evening, we refuel within the limits imposed by the Covid-19. This is also how we get things done on the pitch, “says Marc Muller.
“On November 4, it will be the turn of the Belgians and French to experience this event. Moderators will be responsible for sorting and sending us back the questions for the debate that will follow the film’s broadcast. To manage the evening well, and due to software limitations, only 7,000 people will be able to follow the program. And we are already almost there, although we have recently opened registrations, ”he says.
“Mystery guests will be present, known for their investment in ecology in France,” he promises.
“We have good reason to believe that ‘A contresens’ will be broadcast on television subsequently, perhaps at the end of the year, or in the course of 2021. We have contacts on this subject with the BBC and a channel Finnish ”, he tells us.
“Our animations are paying, in order to come within our expenses. We put on the table 600,000 Swiss francs [NDLR : 557.000 euros] to carry out this survey. It is a team of 5 people who rallied around the director Jérôme Piguet. Journalist Zelda Chauvet worked on the project full time for a year and a half. We went out into the field to meet key people who had never been approached before, “explains Marc Muller.
“We are asking just 9 euros to participate in this evening which allows you to preview the documentary and participate in the debate that will follow”, he pleads.
To register: https://acontresens-lefilm.fr/
A very big thank you to Marc Muller on behalf of the Automobile Propre team and myself for the responsiveness and the time given to complete this interview. As far as I’m concerned: I’ve added myself to the list and now look forward to November 4, 2020, 8 p.m.!