Fact check: Photo does not show a diesel generator charging an electric car

More than 30,000 social media users share reports claiming to show a photo of an electric car being charged by a diesel generator towed by a gas-powered van, often with the guideline ‘the future is stupid’. The claim about the machines pictured is partly untrue: a technical expert from ÖAMTC, the company that charges the car in the photo, told Reuters that the “generator” is powered by rechargeable lithium batteries, while the car is powered by diesel.

Reuters fact check. REUTERS

The reports (here, here, here, here) show a photo of an electric car being loaded by a machine attached to a yellow ÖAMTC-branded car. The text above the photo reads: “A driven van towing a diesel generator that charges an electric car.” Some reports add the phrase: “The future is stupid …”

The original photo, seen here, was posted in May 2019 by the Austrian Motorcycle, Motorcycle and Touring Club, or ÖAMTC in German (www.oeamtc.at/), which provides emergency services and annual safety tests to members, among other services. . (here).

The caption on the original photo says when translated from German: “If the battery can no longer stand it, we bring fresh juice! Our ‘Mobile Power Bank’ for e-cars has successfully completed its first test in practice. After about 20 minutes, the electric Mercedes had enough power to bring our member to the next charging station without any problems. ”

“The photo was actually misinterpreted,” Christian Klejna, a technical expert at ÖAMTC, told Reuters in an email. ‘It’s not a petrol generator, but a mobile power bank for e-cars. The Mobile Electric Vehicle Charger consists of several lithium cells and can deliver approximately twelve kilometers of electricity to an electric vehicle. “

Klejna said these lithium batteries are charged via a standard 220 volt connection via public mains cables.

“The broken down vehicle is (not yet!) An e-car,” Klejna continued. ‘This is one of our standard Diesel malfunctioning vehicles that we use throughout Austria. Although we are constantly testing e-cars in our car fleet and are already traveling with e-bikes in the city of Vienna. ”


Partly false. The company pictured in these claims told Reuters that the malfunctioning vehicle was powered by diesel, but that the power source for charging the electric car used rechargeable electric batteries.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.