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A "Who Done It" for the auto industry.
on July 19, 2006
A great film about another sorry episode in the history of America's automobile and energy industry. Set as a "Who-Done-It", the film chronicles how short sighted automakers (especially GM) develop great electric cars in response to the California ZEV mandate only to do everything in their power - from suing the state, making ridiculous ads, creating a red-tape filled lease application process - to kill them. Consumers buy bigger and bigger vehicles (whether they need them or not). Government officials and staffers bow to the pressure of intense lobbying, and conflicts of interest. The sad fate of most of the EVs produced during the late '90s to 2002 is revealed.
GM, especially, comes off as incredibly vindictive. What automaker ever tracked down every car of any model and crushed them (not the Corvair, Edsel, etc.)? Even after loyal drivers pleaded to keep them, offering to buy the last remaining EV1s with junk titles at lease buyout prices, GM went out of its way to ensure that the EV1 was history.
The passion of GM's EV specialist Chelsea Sexton for the EV1 makes her the star of the movie. One can only imagine what the engineers who designed the EV1 felt when their babies were being crushed.
But the movie ends on a hopeful note. We may never see the EV1 again, but vehicles using electric drive systems, either as full EVs (which are coming from several start-up companies) or plug-in hybrids, must inevitably roam the roads. The upward trend in gasoline prices, the effects of global warming, the inherent efficiency of electric drive trains, the continued improvement of battery technology, and the upcoming reevaluation of the ZEV Mandate guarantee it.