by Alan Rapp on August 4, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Who Killed the Electric Car?
  • IMDB: link

This film will make you both incredibly angry and deeply sad.  Once upon a time the United States was known for technological innovation, and it seems for a few years, in the early 90’s, we were again with the revolutionary electric car.  So what happened?  Just who killed the electric car and why?

Who Killed the Electric Car? is structured in two parts.  The first examines the creation of the electric car and its, much too short, history.  The second half of the movie is an investigation for the reasons behind the destruction of the futuristic automobile that was better, cleaner, and cheaper than the gas guzzlers we are driving today.

With interviews by consumers and celebrities who drove the cars, California activists, and a narration by Martin Sheen, the film presents a detailed look at the quick rise, and even faster fall, of an automobile powered by electricity which produced no harmful emissions.

The film is very educational as it explains how the car was made, marketed, and eventually destroyed.  It also interviews drivers of EV1 who loved the car so much they couldn’t let it go and watched in horror as their beloved cars were gathered up (no one was allowed to own a car, they were leased for a set period of time), and taken to the junkyard to be crushed and shredded.

The Suspects:

Consumers – Was there enough interest in the car to mass produce them on a state wide or nation wide scale?  The evidence is murky, but there seemed to be a high level of skepticism on this new technology which may have helped the electric car to an early grave.

The Government – George Walker Bush and company (many who worked with the next two suspects on our list) stopped the increased level of innovation in this area in favor of the staus quo continuing the level of dependency on foreign oil.

The Oil Lobby – There is oil still out there.  Trillions of dollars worth of oil that wouldn’t be worth as much if all the sudden there was a cheaper and cleaner energy available.  Monopolies don’t like competition.

The Auto Industry – They made it too good.  The electric car didn’t need the maintenance and yearly costs of a gasoline powered car, it would last longer, and therefore would interfere with profits.  Why wasn’t the electric car given to the same marketing people who, even with today’s high gasoline prices, keep selling Hummers?

The Battery – Was it good enough or was it too limiting?  Did the auto industry use the best battery available or purposely use an inferior brand to help decrease interest in the electric car?

The Hydrogen Fuel Cell – The more costly, more unstable, and more expensive “solution” seems to have gained steam.  Not suprisingly the hydrogen pumps would be funded by Oil Industries such as Shell.  The hydrogen, like the gas, would be a limited resource that would allow price fluctuations, little or no consumer control, and high profits for big corporations.

I was amazed to see the story of these cars, of which we’ve heard so little about, from the people who made them and drove them, and it turns out loved them.  I wonder how many other people will see this film and want to get behind the wheel of such an amazing car.  I know I want one!

So what’s the verdict?  I’ll let you go see the film yourself to find out who the film finds guilty and not guilty.  I will tell you two things.  One, it’s a movie that deserves to be watched and discussed in great detail.  And two, it will make you want to cry and/or hit someone (repeatedly and with great force).  And yet those who helped manufacture the original EV1 cars still work to bring the technology back into the public consciousness.  Their struggle and dedication present a hopeful message that though the electric car may be dead today, perhaps, with enough support, we may see it again.  I’d like to believe so.

For more information about the electric car, as well as the film, check out the official homepage.

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