Related Articles: Movies, All

Who Killed The Electric Car?

A Murder Most Tragic

With the price of gas skyrocketing and with momentum for oil drilling in Alaska, the release of director Chris Paineís documentary Who Killed The Electric Car? could not be timelier. Paineís documentary is bound to agitate and infuriate a few and, with any luck, enlighten many more.

In Who Killed The Electric Car? Paine charts the ascent and all too rapid decline of General Motorís radical electric car, the EV1. Utilizing lightweight materials, aerodynamic design, and revolutionary design, the EV1 was released in 1996 and developed a small, but loyal following. Barely a decade later, the EV1 is all but a memory.

What happened? Rather than pointing the finger at the most obvious suspects (political interest groups, oil companies, etc.), Paine examines all facets of the death of the EV1 and what unfurls is a complicated, depressing, and concurrently inspiring story. Who Killed The Electric Car? makes it clear that the "usual" suspects were somewhat involved in the destruction of the EV1, but the answer is murky at best.

The EV1 was an omen, a harbinger of a different era in which consumers would no longer be chemically dependent upon fossil fuel. If youíre working for a company supplying said fossil fuel, you wouldnít be rooting for a vehicle (or consumer) who no longer needs you. But, the most obvious suspects were not the only ones responsible for the EV1ís premature departure.

The EV1 was fast, quiet, efficient, and a bold step in a different direction. But, the EV1 had limitations. The battery life of the EV1 constrained how far one could travel before recharging. There were few charging stations operational during the carís short tenure. That being said, the EV1 was the kind of car that could work for most commuters.

Independent of the EV1ís design limitations, the company responsible for designing, marketing, and selling the vehicle seemed confused (at the very least) about what to do with the EV1. GM only allowed consumers to lease the few EV1ís that hit the road and once the decision was made to shelve the vehicle, GM was quick to pull the radical vehicles off the road.

Paine explores an intriguing mystery about one of the most innovative vehicles to ever hit the on ramp and while he clearly views the oil companies and political interest groups as the primary suspects, the EV1ís death was not the fault of one individual or group. Who Killed The Electric Car? is perhaps more than anything a powerful call to action and a reminder that a paradigm shift is only a great idea away.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars