Originally published on CleanTechnica.
By Cynthia Shahan

I respect that anyone in the spotlight has an opportunity to focus fans of their art and craft on important social issues. This is a good thing. Education and a democracy work through integration, action, and response.

Certainly, a few of the famous people who come to mind are Michael Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and Leonardo DiCaprio. On the latter, BYD announced recently that Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Messenger of Peace and Academy Award–winning actor, will serve as a new brand ambassador in China for BYD’s line of “new energy” vehicles (electric vehicles).

I do follow anti-racist, environmentally focused, supportive, inclusive, humanitarian types of stars. Even in his choice of films, DiCaprio often chooses social and environmental issues. DiCaprio’s exploration of disability shot him into the spotlight as a brilliant craftsman in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Choosing a film about disability, family, and love unveiled astounding acting skills as well as complex cultural issues. Good for him. His focus on the environment is skilled as well. Now, his work continues with Chinese automaker BYD.

“The commitment to new energy vehicles is part of BYD’s ‘Cool the Earth by 1°C’ campaign for the creation of a ‘Zero Emissions Energy Ecosystem’ – comprising renewable energy generation, storage, and usage – which looks to transform how individual’s use of energy and promote public awareness of climate change,” the company writes.

Sherry Li, BYD’s Brand and Public Relations General Manager, said: “Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio has greatly inspired the world with his outstanding dedication to saving the planet’s ecological environment. As our brand ambassador in China, we are pleased to work with him in promoting public awareness of climate change through the use of new energy vehicles.”

We see a lot of famous people in EVs, but not enough — the ones who are early adopters matter for the example they set. DiCaprio owns a few plug-in EVs. He once drove a Toyota Prius to the Academy Awards. Autoblog points out that “DiCaprio also purchased movie rights to the VW diesel scandal and supported a Formula E team.” It’ll be interesting to see what he does regarding the VW diesel scandal.

BYD is the leading producer (globally) of electric cars, currently offering several electric models — “2 PHEVs (Qin, Tang) and 4 EVs (EV300, e5, e6, Denza).” BYD also sells electric buses, some of which are produced in the US, but the vast majority are produced and used in China.

So, it follows that DiCaprio is willing to do some promotional work for the company. “All over the world people are realizing that cars that run on fossil fuels are inefficient and a major threat to the planet. I am very pleased to be joining an effort to increase the number of clean vehicles on the road in China and beyond,” DiCaprio said.

Reprinted with permission.