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Who Killed the Electric Car? 2006
Description: In 1996, electric vehicles began to appear on streets all over California. They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust, and ran without gasoline... Ten years later, these vehicles were destroyed.
Released: 04 Aug 2006 Director: Chris Paine Writers: Chris Paine Actors: Martin Sheen, Reverend Gadget, Dave Barthmuss, Ed Begley Jr. Genres: Documentary
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Who Killed the Electric Car? Reviews:

Probably the most alarming thing about this storyline of how the electric vehicle was literally destroyed is what it reveals about the power of corporations to control our lives. Movie maker Chris Paine, himself an EV1 owner, makes it clear that it was large corporations, especially large oil, and most especially General Motors itself, that woke up one day and asked themselves the multi-billion dollar question: Is an economical and efficient electric car really nice for business? In the situation of the oil companies, obviously not since such a car would not be burning any gas or needing any motor oil. In the situation of the vehicle manufacturers themselves, especially GM, which now spent some very serious bucks on developing the EV1, the respond came as a bit of a surprise. First of all, they asked themselves, in the long run are you going to create more cash building tiny efficient cars or behemoths like the Hummer? It didn't take long for them to figure out that the profit margins would be higher with the bigger vehicles. And then they realized that with the EV1 they wouldn't be able to sell many of their combustion-engine parts like oil filters and such. Furthermore, the EV1 was built to comply with California law. Doing some more thinking, GM realized that it would never do to let some state government to say them what to manufacture. If things worked out in California, before you know it, the entire nation might very well go plug-in.So, as shown so vividly in this documentary, the vehicle manufactures and the oil companies purchased up or afraid enough politicians so that the law requiring zero emissions in California went the method of the dodo. Meanwhile GM, which had been leasing the EV1, recalled them all and literally destroyed them. Paine has some great footage showing the brand fresh and near brand fresh vehicles being crushed while EV1 lovers protested in vain. Nationally of course we know about the bills congress passed allowing truck-sized cars to continue to guzzle gas (mostly SUVs) and how 6,000-pound cars were given heavy tax breaks for tiny business owners (mostly anybody but a wage earner).There is of course plenty of controversy about whether the storyline presented by Paine (narration by Martin Sheen, by the way) is fair and accurate. I did a tiny research--there is a ton of notification on the Web--and what became obvious after not too long was that the electric vehicle not only is a viable alternative to the combustion engine vehicle but really is the wave of the future whether General Motors and the another vehicle manufacturers know it or not. For now, however, they are not about to change their ways. They have too much of a vested interest in business as it is.The hydrogen fuel cell red herring is addressed, and, with support from Joseph J. Romm, who wrote The Hype about Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate (2004), which I highly recommend, got fed to the dogs. Naturally there is a clip of George W. Bush pretending to help the hydrogen fuel cell car, even though I am sure he knows that economically it's not even close to a match for the electric car. Getting the Nice Prevaricator to advance the propaganda place out by the oil and car companies surely is something close to proof positive that it's BS.Especially watchable is the clip from Huell Howser's PBS present in which we receive to see the EV1s not only being crushed but pulverized into tiny bits for recycling.So, what's it all about, Alfie? It's just as Eisenhower warned: beware not just of the industrial-military complex taking over our lives, but beware of corporations in general purchasing up all the politicians and writing all the laws. In fact, with the method the mass electorate is influenced by advertising, only politicians pre-approved through campaign donations from large corporations have a possibility of even getting the nomination of either of the two main political parties. And without that nomination, effectively speaking, they can't win.Regardless of all the machinations by GM, et al., I think our grandchildren will be driving mostly electric cars with nary a gas station in sight. And they will be inundated with "green" adverts in the media with lots of flowers and tiny women paid for by General Motors and Toyota, saying us how they are responsible for the shiny, fresh clean world.(Note: Over 500 of my film reviews are actually accessible in my ebook "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Trust I Swallowed the Remote!" Receive it at Amazon!)


I don't have many documentaries to my credit as far as how many I've watched, but I thought this was great. Part of its appeal was its bringing to light an trouble that was either fully unknown to most Americans, or otherwise forgotten. If you consider the parameters surrounding the short lived electric car, then it is simple to see how many of us wouldn't even have known there was a assassin of the electric car. Consider that there were several made by GM, Ford, and Honda. Consider that they were only released in California and Arizona. Consider that in those stores not many were sold. And finally, consider that none of the vehicle companies spent much cash or effort into advertising these vehicles, then you can see how so many of us were largely ignorant of the plight of the electric car.This documentary was very informative and fact driven which I appreciate. Sure, politics played some role in it all, but when doesn't politics enjoy a role in major issues? This documentary really be-smudged GM, but since I'm not a GM enthusiast, it didn't bother me one bit. I'd even go so far as to tell that this documentary was the only thing that now made me feel guilty about owning a Hummer. SUV's are my only environmental vice. I recycle, I don't litter, I test to stay away from aerosols, and I generally do what I can... except when it comes to SUV's.It was interesting to see the active annihilation of the electric car. One can only wonder what the advances in electric cars would be if they were to have remain in production. Everyone knows how resourceful and inventive humans can be. Given the right incentive (money), there would probably have been about a dozen updates to the electric vehicle and the infrastructure from '96 til now. And to think my home state of California had the possibility to be the thorn in the side of the auto industry to result change but then blinked, only goes to present just how mighty the oil and auto industries are. But I still trust that the electric vehicle will create a second coming. Because if the environment is not enough of an incentive for folks to create a change, gas prices certainly will be.


I think this film is wonderful. Can't understand the weak rating on this website so far--I really wouldn't be surprised if those individuals and industries who stand to lose profits from the revelations of the movie, have voted negatively to artificially reduce its average rating on this well-known site. I mean, jeez, the film hasn't even debuted yet (I saw an advanced screening)! And already it's only at a four-something? C'mon! Since I leased and drove an EV everyday for three years(until it was rear-ended), I feel I'm in a nice position to realistically evaluate the movie. Let's face it, it's a storyline that needs to be told. These problems impact everyone, since everyone is affected by air quality, unstable foreign politics, gas prices, transportation, and (lack of) consumer choice. EV technology is here, now. Unlike the fuel cell, which is perpetually 10 years in the future. Why was it taken away from the consumers who wanted it? Why does our society not promote the mentality that multiple solutions (EVs, fuel cells, hybrids, bicycles, mass transit, increased fuel economy, etc. etc.) all need to be employed to attack our issues with pollution and dependence on foreign oil? Why are there all these myths that the electric vehicle is undesirable and not viable? Consumers and privacy makers need to know this story.As a driver who lived and followed the story, I think the film does a bang-up job of revealing it. The film starts with a historical look at the development of the electric car, what factors discouraged it back then, what brought it back to life in the 1990's, its nice features, and why it is no longer accessible to consumers as a production vehicle. (conversion kits only, folks!) The film is filled with history, politics, technology, innovation, and some very interesting personalities. It's woven together well and is smooth and fascinating. Even though it's a documentary, it will not place you to sleep! Go on--go see it. Even if you don't accept with it, you won't regret it. We all have a responsibility to be more active with these issues, and in the meantime it's a fascinating story.



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