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Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)

Cast: Dave Barthmuss, Jim Boyd and His Men of the West, Alec N. Brooks, more...
Director: Chris Paine
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Sony Pictures
Genre: Documentary, Political & Social Issues, Conspiracies
Running Time: 92 min.

With gasoline prices approaching $4/gallon, fossil fuel shortages, unrest in oil producing regions around the globe and mainstream consumer adoption and adoption of the hybrid electric car (more than 140,000 Prius' sold this year), this story couldn't be more relevant or important. The foremost goal in making this movie is to educate and enlighten audiences with the story of this car, its place in history and in the larger story of our car culture and how it enables our continuing addiction to foreign oil. This is an important film with an important message that not only calls to task the officials who squelched the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, but all of the other accomplices, government, the car companies, Big Oil, even Eco-darling Hydrogen as well as consumers, who turned their backs on the car and embrace embracing instead the SUV. Our documentary investigates the death and resurrection of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in our country's future; issues which affect everyone from progressive liberals to the neo-conservative right

GreenCine Member Reviews

Conspiracy Theory Can't Explain Everything by NLee March 20, 2007 - 8:04 AM PDT
4 out of 6 members found this review helpful
I won't argue with the conspiracy theory suggested by this movie - it is probably true that Big Oil and GM all wanted to kill the EV1 Electric Vehicle, anyway. My problem is that as a documentary, it failed to provide a balanced view for merits and limitations of rechargeable battery-powered electric vehicles.

This documentary found 'Battery Technology' to be the only NOT-GUILTY suspect in the death of EV1. However, it never address the problem with battery charging time (*). Despite what the DVD's box art may suggest, you cannot simply plug the car into an ordinary 110V AC socket to recharge it. Owners of EV1 (and all other electric cars) must have special charger installed with 220V wiring. A full charge takes over-night, because ordinary household lines are not capable of suppling higher power. With a "super fast" commerical charger such as the PosiCharger made by AeroVironment(**), it takes about one hour to charge the battery from 20% to 80%. A full charge still takes 2-3 hours.

Imagine that you are driving a battery electric vehicle for family vacation (Okay, the EV1 only sits two, so you can't bring any kids). Further imagine that "super fast" recharging stations are readily avialable along the highway. For every one hour of driving, you have to stop and spend one to two hours waiting at the recharging station. Now you must be really thankful that you didn't bring any kids.

Hybrid (including plug-in hybrid) vehicle solved this problem by having a built-in recharger. It charges the battery as you drive, so you will never get stuck waiting at the recharging station. Plus the price of a hybrid family car is far less than that of a two-seat battery electric car.

Let's face it, most people like to feel good about doing (or at least saying) something for the environment, but they just don't want to pay alot and give up too much convenience to do so. This, is the real reason why battery electric vehicle like the EV1 is a flop, and hybrid vehicle like the Toyota Prius is a big hit with consumers.

(*) The only time you hear somebody mention the battery recharging time is in the (get this) DELETED SCENES section! Even there it was down-played.

(**) Most engineers interviewed in this documentary all work for AeroVironment. So no wonder why they are so passionate about rechargeable battery-powered electric cars, and hostile toward fuel cell-powered electric cars.

Murder Most Fuel -- er, Foul by talltale November 18, 2006 - 5:12 PM PST
7 out of 8 members found this review helpful
WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? strikes me as the very model of an intelligent, provocative, agitprop documentary that scores its points (and there are a LOT of them) with precision and honesty. And the "car" in question turns out to be an almost perfect subject: an example of an idea whose time has come but stands no chance against the power and venality of government and the automotive/petroleum industries, and the stupidity and lack of inquisitiveness on the part of consumers.

Now, more than a decade since the care was with us, we need it--given the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels--even more. Watching the film, as everyone from the car's sales staff to the people who "leased" it (GM wouldn't allow anyone to "own" an electric car) speak out about its benefits, the story approaches tragedy. Yet, by the end, hope is still held out for the new hybrid cars. This is a wonderful, informative, necessary film, and I hope its very being will help us farther down the road toward an intelligent energy policy.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.69)
111 Votes
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