Everything that's wrong with the American automobile industry, and Generals Motors in particular, is on display in “Who Killed the Electric Car?,” a documentary that chronicles the corporate inertia, greed, short-sightedness, corruption, collusion and just plain stupidity that created, then quashed a revolutionary vehicle. It starts back in the mid-1990s, when GM begins developing the EV1, the first mass-produced plug-in electric car, in response to pending California emissions mandates. While GM's engineers toil away to turn a prototype (which they'd already built) into a practical vehicle, GM's lawyers and lobbyists do everything in their power to defeat the legislation. It seems that GM and their corporate cronies — the oil companies, parts manufacturers and dealers — don't believe they can make as much money on electric cars as they can on, say, Hummers. Well, the EV1 finally arrives and both the car and company get rave reviews and restore faith that Detroit can "do it." But in the end, the lawyers win and the legislation dies. And once GM isn't compelled to "do it," they pull the proverbial plug on the EV1, dismantle the program and start collecting and crushing the cars. They won't even sell them (EV1s were only available by lease) to drivers who beg to buy them. The coda to this story is that while Detroit concentrated considerable resources to undermine the emissions rules, the Japanese carmakers used the opportunity to develop their hybrid technology. So now Toyota has the best-selling Prius and GM, after a U.S. government-assisted bankruptcy, is playing catch-up once again. My tweet on the day GM entered Chapter 11: Who Killed the Electric Car?-The rise and demise of GM's electric program. In a scrapheap somewhere an EV1 is having the last laugh. 7.5 (out of 10) I only wonder where we'll be after the current crisis is over.
"Who Killed the Electric Car?"
Length: 91 minutes
Cast: Martin Sheen, Dave Barthmuss, Jim Boyd, Alec N. Brooks
Director: Chris Paine