Sheila McNulty Will electric cars move Hayward beyond petroleum?

What will Tony Hayward do with the time he frees up by stepping down as BP CEO in just over a week? One audacious bid for his services comes from Hello Electric, an anti-oil campaign group which is supported by Purpose Campaigns – a New York-based company dedicated to supporting progressive social change.

Hello Electric is asking Hayward, who attracted ire in the US following the gulf oil spill, to embody his company’s former slogan and move “beyond petroleum” by becoming an advicate for electric cars. They even have a petition on their website for people to sign.

Here is their pitch:

During his tenure as CEO of BP, Tony Hayward and BP talked a lot about the need to move beyond petroleum. But with the massive gulf oil spill this April, he quickly became a symbol for the environmental damage caused by the oil industry. He has apologized for mistakes made, but we want to offer him an opportunity to take a real step towards a world beyond petroleum.

Their point is that the world cannot end its dependence on oil until it stops driving cars that run on the fuel. The site claims it has put a deposit on an electric car and will offer it to Mr Hayward to drive if he agrees to act as an ambassador for electric cars. Nonetheless, the site says, if Mr Hayward wants to pay for it himself, it would be even happier. Their offer to Hayward:

Just think, you’ll never have to make another trip to the gas station!

It is unclear how many have signed the petition; there doesn’t seem to be a counter on the site. But there is a list of names, and even some with the signatories’ photographs. Scrolling through them, it seems people from Russia to the US would like Mr Hayward to do this.

There has not been any response from his camp. But he could be waiting to pass the baton to his replacement, Bob Dudley, before committing.

The site says 25,000 people must sign in support of the giving Mr Hayward the pitch job before it hands over the car. Here are the specifics:

Sign Tony’s goodbye card and challenge him to a new career as an ambassador for electric cars!

Alas, I do not think Mr Hayward is going to get his car. If the lack of momentum to pass US energy legislation and get a handle on carbon emissions is any guide, it would seem doubtful enough people care if another gas guzzler is taken off the road and an electric car put on.

That said, with the signatories mounting from around the world, maybe Hayward will see this as the perfect chance to restore his reputation.