Barbie and Ken now drive EVs… but does Ken really need a Hummer?

It’s not easy to see, but in the new movie, the E and the V of  ‘Chevrolet’ on the side of Barbie’s Corvette, are both highlighted in blue, as subtle confirmation that Margot Robbie’s character has not only gone green, she’s also become a fan of General Motors’ range of electric vehicles (although a pedant might point out that the first electric Corvette will not go on sale until next year).

However, while Barbie zips around in her smallish EV, Ken’s emission-free vehicle of choice is a clunking great Hummer (The film is full of GM vehicles, by the way), which doesn’t sit so well.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the International Energy Agency (IEA) 2023 Critical Minerals Market Review observed that: ‘Demand for batteries in vehicles outpaced the growth rate of electric car sales as the average battery size for electric cars continued to rise in nearly every major market. The trend of favouring larger vehicles seen in conventional car markets is being replicated in the EV market, posing additional pressure on critical mineral supply chains.’

Greenpeace have been quick to upbraid Ken for this extravagance. Kelly Huang, Digital Lead for Drive Change Campaign for Greenpeace East Asia said: ‘Ken is given an electric SUV, probably to match his traditionally masculine role.

‘Studies in the US and Australia have highlighted the issue of excessive reliance on big cars. In 2022, the IEA finds that electric SUVs accounted for over half of electric car sales, breaking records. Bigger cars means bigger batteries and requires more critical minerals, as well as the carbon-intensive auto steel. In other words, what made Ken ‘cool’ is not really ‘cool’ for our planet.

‘As the planet warms, purchases of SUVs have experienced a significant surge, escalating from 20% of new car sales in 2012 to a staggering 46% of all cars sold in 2022, according to the IEA. If SUVs were a country, they would be the world’s 6th largest CO2 emitter. So when automakers think they’re helping the climate by switching to EVs, the truth is that the rise in SUV sales resulted in 70 million tons of additional carbon dioxide emissions in 2022, almost negating the 80 million tons reduced by transitioning to EVs.’

It’s not escaped everyone’s attention however, that Ken’s ownership of a Hummer is subtly mocked in the film. Having hitherto existed in Barbie World, Ken gets something of a shock when he finds the real world is not quite so matriarchal.

At, Steve DaSilva describes the Hummer’s first appearance: ‘As Ken is in his patriarchy-learning montage, a GMS Hummer pulls up around the corner and a clown car-load of people, dressed for a country club, exit.  Ken is stunned. This massive black and grey vehicle, unlike any of the pastel pink of Barbie Land is full of men. And it’s big and angry and masculine. That is the GMC Hummer EV and it is such a funny bit. I don’t know why General Motors approved this because it is everything that I hate in that car: the fact that it is comically oversized and uselessly heavy. And Greta Gerwig just made that the text of her film!’

Kelly Huang at Greenpeace concludes: ‘For EVs to become a truly sustainable option, efforts in Barbie Land (and the real world) should focus on reducing car sizes while investing in solar and wind charging facilities. Additionally, holding automakers accountable for battery durability, energy efficiency, repairability, reuse, and recyclability will help minimize the use of virgin materials.’




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