Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Martin SheenWho Killed the Electric Car? Directed by Chris Paine
Starring Martin Sheen (narrator)
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



Whether you’re "green" or "industry", a smoker or an asthmatic, rich or poor, WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR is a great look at corporate greed and consumer apathy in the United States.

Similar in its documentary tone to
ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, Who Killed The Electric Car delves into General Motors’ production of the infamous EV1, the company’s first mainline electric car. Initially built in 1996, the EV1 was the epitome of what an electric car should be. It had power (0-60 mph in 3-4 seconds), could travel around 80 miles on a charge, and was relatively affordable. But as soon as the EV1 made its appearance, GM decided to snuff the project by hamstringing it wherever possible. Few (if any) TV ads made it to prime-time. An extremely limited number were produced (under 1,000). Consumers were unaware of their existence. GM obviously couldn’t have cared less. All of the EV1s were leased, and once their lease option date came due, GM recollected them and scrapped every last vehicle.

The big question is "why?" The answers vary as much as any industry-wide controversy. Fingers are pointed at GM itself for its greed/need to turn profits quickly and in large proportions. Legal entanglements with the air quality board in California are also hit upon as the Zero Emission Mandate comes under attack by GM, Chrysler, and Ford. Consumer apathy is a big issue, too. Not until gas prices rose above $2.00 per gallon did most consumers ever consider buying hybrids or electrics. Of course, we also have the Federal government which has done absolutely nothing in terms of aiding air quality within the U.S. Being bound tightly to oil tycoons and lobbyists continues to pay a staggering toll on healthcare (respiratory diseases are spiraling out of control as smog alerts plague cities like L.A.).

The film begins and ends with a mock funeral, an electric car funeral. Movie stars Alexandra Paul (BAYWATCH), J. Karen Thomas (GENTLE BEN), and several other Hollywood types attended the ceremonies, giving a bit of press to an event that otherwise would’ve gone almost completely unnoticed. An unfortunately pathetic statement.

But there is hope. The end of the film shows us the emergence of new battery technologies that will allow electric’s to travel further on a single charge. That Toyota’s Prius hybrid has over 150,000 cars on the road is an excellent trend. Now we just need to hope that gas prices continue to rise. If they do, oil companies will destroy themselves via their own greed. People will switch to alternative fuel cars if crude prices continue their ascent. Hit Americans in their pocketbooks and you’re guaranteed to get backlash.

Click here for the Who Killed the Electric Car? movie trailer!


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