If you like murder mysteries, this is one with an unexpected victim. The name says it all: Who Killed the Electric Car? is a documentary chronicling the brief rise and perplexing demise of General Motors' EV1 electric car. Part mystery, part exposé, the film features interviews and investigative reports of numerous individuals from auto industry employees to legislators to consumers to celebrities (most of whom were enthusiastic early adoptors when Hollywood began using clean cars as a brand symbol). The story is centered in California, where the EV1 had its heyday, but taps occasionally on Detroit's door to talk to sources in the motor city.
The film was directed by Chris Paine, an early electric car owner himself, who was enamored with the idea of a quiet, exhaust-free, low-maintenance vehicle that took him off of the cycle of dependence on gas stations and vulnerability to rising oil costs. When the bubble burst and electric cars and filling stations began to disappear, Paine decided to get to the bottom of the strange quelling of an idea that had seemed full of potential. His conclusion was not only that the EV1 had been murdered, but that the tale of its execution mirrored so many other promising industries that get swept under the rug and forgotten. But, he emphasizes, it's not a story that should leave us despairing.
Who Killed the Electric Car? is not just about the EV1. It's about how this allegory for failure - reflected in today's oil prices and air quality - can also be a shining symbol of society's potential to better itself and the world around it. While there's plenty of outrage for lost time, there's also time for renewal as technology is reborn...
WC contributor, Joel Makower, has more to say about this rebirth of electric to follow later today.
The movie opened in Hollywood this past week and will be coming to theaters around the country over the next few weeks.
Interestingly enough, the crew associated with 'Who Killed the Electric Car' is also working on a documentary about, well, Liftport.
Success in the 'Car' film will, of course, enable him to work on more projects, including the Liftport and SE documentary.
We of course wish him well, not just because he's doing a film around our idea but because the topic is important.
Publicity for this industrial horror story couldn't have come at a more opportune time. Thanks to reliance on oil we're not only causing huge environmental problems such as pollution and global warming, but we're also enriching the bully-boys who brought us 9-11! How much more trouble and tragedy do we - not just the U.S., but the entire civilised world - need?
I bought the first Honda Insight in my area of Connecticut in 2000. I drive this gas/electric hybrid nearly every day, and am asked questions about it's operation constantly. If allowed to buy an all-electric car such as the EV-1, I would have long ago. I've seen the movie, but not the EV-1 here in Ct...a car that looks very much like my Insight. My opinion: the oil industry pressured the American auto industry to quit working on electrics. That same pressure doesn't work on the Japanese. Watch Honda and Toyota to survive, and for our big three to fail. The oil companies are to blame. DR