Movie Review – Who Killed the Electric Car?

Joanna Schroeder

who-killed-electric-car1“If there are enough David’s in the world, we can win.” S. David Freeman in “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

I’m switching gears this week and watched a documentary that still has momentum, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” If you have a real passion for alternative energy/technology/environment, then you must watch this movie.

The drama begins by telling us that the number one flaw of cars is smog – one of the top environmental problems in California. So in 1990, the state passed a zero emissions mandate, which in essence, said that some cars on the road should have zero emissions, and each year the number of zero emissions cars should grow. Enter the EV1 (electric vehicle) from GM.

Over the next few years, the EV1 was introduced in California followed by several other electric vehicles, while at the same time, GM along with other auto manufacturers sued California to repeal the law. Now why would a company invest billions of dollars into new technology and then try to sabotage its own success with lawsuits and a covert grassroots PR campaign? There are varying opinions on this but ultimately it worked, as by 2001 or so, every electric vehicle was repossessed and ultimately destroyed. The car companies placed the blame on lack of consumer demand, which was ironically, a “loop-hole” in the zero emissions mandate. In simplified terms, if there was no consumer demand then the law would be repealed. 

I don’t have the space to go into details of what transpired, but there were several conspiracies set forth as to who was the culprit of the killing of the electric car. A few potentials: car companies, oil companies (who also had an advertising/PR campaign challenging EVs – sound familiar     ethanol?), California Air Resources Board (CARB), American consumers, battery companies, federal government, and the hydrogen fuel cell. I won’t spoil the fun and tell you who the producers feel are to blame…you’ll just have to watch the movie. Oh, and the electric car may be making a comeback with the Tesla, the Smart Car and the plug-in electric/gas/FFV combo, the Chevy Volt. It’s amazing what $3.00+ gas, oil dependency, an environment in turmoil, and consumer activation can spur. 

book reviews