Who Killed the Electric Car?
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
In 1996, electric cars began to appear on roads all over California. They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline. Ten years later, these futuristic cars were almost entirely gone. What happened? Why should we be haunted by the ghost of the electric car?
It begins with a solemn funeral for a car. By the end of Chris Paine's lively and informative documentary, the idea doesn't seem quite so strange. As narrator Martin Sheen notes, "They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline." Paine proceeds to show how this unique vehicle came into being and why General Motors ended up reclaiming its once-prized creation less than a decade later. He begins 100 years ago with the original electric car. By the 1920s, the internal-combustion engine had rendered it obsolete. By the 1980s, however, car companies started exploring alternative energy sources, like solar power. This, in turn, led to the late, great battery-powered EV1. Throughout, Paine deftly translates hard science and complex politics, such as California's Zero-Emission Vehicle Mandate, into lay person's terms (director Alex Gibney, Oscar-nominated for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, served as consulting producer). And everyone gets the chance to have their say: engineers, politicians, protesters, and petroleum spokespeople--even celebrity drivers, like Peter Horton, Alexandra Paul, and a wild man beard-sporting Mel Gibson. But the most persuasive participant is former Saturn employee Chelsea Sexton. Promoting the benefits of the EV1 was more than a job to her, and she continues to lobby for more environmentally friendly options. Sexton provides the small ray of hope Paine's film so desperately needs. Who Killed the Electric Car? is, otherwise, a tremendously sobering experience. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Stills from Who Killed the Electric Car? (click for larger image)
Writer/Director Chris Paine Blogs About Who Killed the Electric Car
When Who Killed the Electric Car premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (on the same weekend as An Inconvenient Truth), we wondered whether movie goers were ready for a new kind of 'action film'. Fortunately people jumped onboard and this seems even more true today.
We put this DVD together after the release of the film to include a dozen short scenes we couldn't quite fit into our story. My favorite is one with Stan and Iris Ovshinsky who developed the revolutionary battery technology that powered GM's electric car (and today's Prius). These two brilliant octogenarians took our small camera crew on a Willy Wonka style tour of their inventions including the world's largest thin film solar cell factory. As we stood under a football field size machine in Troy Michigan, I blustered "Is solar power back?" Stan exclaimed " What?! Solar never went away... What was back was backward thinking!" And as his machine cranked out miles of solar cells above us, we knew he was right.
I'm especially glad that the optimistic last scene of Who Killed the Electric Car has proven that we weren't just wishful thinkers when we finished our edit. The clips feature the first glimpse of the ultra fast Tesla electric sports prototype as well the Zenn neighborhood electric vehicle. Both cars are starting to roll off production lines today. And while the State of California (and some car companies) are still gambling on hydrogen fuel cells, plug-in cars are proving to be more environmentally efficient and popular. Early adopters deserve a lot of the credit. Oil companies and the internal combustion engine monopoly may have "killed" thousands of electric cars (EVs) in the 1990s, but EVs are coming back. (Stay tuned for next film...)
I hope you'll find our documentary takes you on a wild ride out of the 20th century and into the 21st. --Chris Paine, Writer/Director
- 12 Deleted Scenes
- Documentary: "Jump-Starting the Future"
- Music Video: Meeky Rosie's "Forever"
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I had no idea that there was a good electric car developed in the early 2000's. According to the film, the EV1 was developed by GM and leased in limited quantities in order to meet air standards and requirements set by the state of California (CARB) . However, auto industry lobbyists were soon successful in convincing the board to drop the requirements that certain percentages of cars sold be electric vehicles.
Once that requirement was canceled, as the EV1s came off lease, GM collected them and crushed them over the protests of many owners that wanted to purchase and keep their electric cars.
I can't help but wonder where EV technology would be today if the EV1 had been kept in production 10 years ago (and how much smog could have been kept from our skies).
Thankfully Tesla Motors came along and has been able to produce an amazing car that is a pure EV, forcing other car companies to compete. However, far too few people understand the technology and differences between EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids, and too many people incorrectly believe that these vehicles are too limited for their needs.
As the film says, those guilty for the developmental delay (killing) of the electric vehicle include consumers, as well as auto companies, politics, and oil companies. I sincerely hope that 10 years from now, the majority (if not all) of new cars coming off the assembly line are pure EVs.
After watching this, I then watched Revenge Of The Electric Car and that made me feel a little bit better.
The movie mainly tells the story of the EV1 which GM leased in the mid-90s till they took them all back and crushed almost all of them. The people who had them were passionate.about them. GM refused to let people buy out their leases. One survives in an auto museum.
But the movie covers electric car history and interviews a BUNCH of people involved in one way or another. It also predicts the coming of the Tesla and speculates on why GM ended their electric car program back then (now back with the Volt and Bolt models).
In the 11 years since the movie was released electric vehicles have reemerged as a viable automotive option. Not perfect yet, but getting better, I am looking forward to where it will be in 10 years when I am ready for my next car. Maybe I'll go 100% electric on my next car!
One of the great things about this film is that since it was made, the EV movement has turned around and now there are mainstream EVs available from at least six major OEMs (not including the rockstar Tesla), so the story didn't have such a sad ending after all. I think it would be a disservice not to say that this film had something to do with the revolution.
Incidentally, if you are considering making the switch to EV, I highly recommend watching the film FUEL (Josh Tickell) as well.
Most recent customer reviews
A lot about vehicles, inventions, and maintenance is in this.Read more