Who Killed the Electric Car?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Dave Hackman, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

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    This is an interesting documentary about the life and death of the American built electric car. California had just passed a mandate stating that manufacturers who sold cars within their state had to have a percentage of new vehicles with zero emissions. This was passed in order to do something about the piss poor air quality that was becoming out right dangerous to inhale. Auto manufactures were not pleased being told this but begrudgingly set out to produce a totally gasoline free electric vehicle.

    EV1 was the name of their electric vehicle and it was first ready for consumption in 1996 on a lease basis only. It was a real struggle to obtain one of these vehicles due to the limited amount created. Potential owners were placed on a waiting list then scrutinized to determine their worthiness. Tom Hanks was one of the big celebrities who got his hands on one as did the Road Warrior himself Mel Gibson.

    The vehicle was initially designed to travel about 60 miles before it required charging. It was determined that this fit approximately 90 percent of people’s daily needs. With the use of a better-built battery, it was able to exceed this limitation soon after its initial rollout.

    Although things were going well for the electric car with owners extremely satisfied with their neat gasless vehicles, it was not making many in the car manufacturing & oil business too pleased. The fear of an oil-less vehicle, which required few high profit replacement parts was simply not acceptable to their bottom line and so began the push for elimination.

    Lawyers from the manufacturers began a battle in the courts on the legality of this zero emission mandate. Eventually George Bush’s administration felt the need to jump aboard the lawsuit, which isn’t that surprising considering his family background. The manufactures began the spin campaign about the lack of interest and the hardship endured in creation, which if other states began adopting a likewise policy and they did could lead them to potential bankruptcy.

    Those against the electric car began campaigning on what they considered a better technology, Hydrogen. The best attribute this technology provided over electric was its inability to be ready for at least 10 to 15 years. It has an unbelievable high cost to produce and has horrible reliability. Just what the doctor ordered when you still have plenty of oil and parts to profit from.

    In 2003, California dissolved its own emission free mandate and the funeral for the EV1 was set. The manufactures began collecting all leased vehicles. Even those who loved their car and who were willing to pay whatever the cost to keep them were declined and one by one they were collected for extermination. At the time, people didn’t know what would happen to their former cars but soon after reports and video showed, EV1’s crushed and shredded.

    I found the topic of this film to be quite interesting but its presentation was mediocre at best. It didn’t appear polished with top-notch graphics or narration. It actually felt a bit like a 60 minutes episode. I don’t know how you would make it any better but it wasn’t dare I say electrifying. Nevertheless the information was interesting and definitely worth investing my time to see.

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  2. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    While I have yet to see this film, my understanding was that there wasn't a significant number of consumers ready and willing to buy this technology and that the cars were recalled to protect the technology from being stolen. One could argue that this would be the oil company spin logic, but whose to say the film isn't spin itself?
     
  3. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    There's no question that this is a movie from an activist filmmaker, but he does support his basic premise pretty well - that this was a product which consistently sold out even at the prices necessary for it to turn a profit and had high customer satisfaction after that. I'm not normally one for conspiracy theories, but the film does a pretty good job of establishing that one is almost necessary to explain the across-the-board retreat from what was a very successful product.
     
  4. Ray Chuang

    Ray Chuang Screenwriter

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    One of the things I'm surprised the filmmaker didn't mention was the real reason that doomed the EV-1, neatly summed up in two words: Toyota Prius.

    I would love to see the filmmaker do a follow-up about five years from now, especially now with highly successful research at MIT into using a new type of capacitor design instead of using regular batteries to store electrical power for an electric car; this could drastically reduce the size of the "battery pack" and charging time takes only minutes instead of several hours. [​IMG] You can read about MIT's breakthrough at this web site:

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2006/batteries-0208.html
     
  5. dany

    dany Supporting Actor

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    Zero reasons why oil company's would want an elect car to work,zero.
     
  6. Nicholas Martin

    Nicholas Martin Cinematographer

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    Dean Devlin is an executive producer of this film, who drove an EV-1, only to have it join many others in the scrap heap. Literally taking people's cars away from them...terrible.
     
  7. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    The cars were leased, not owned. I believe everyone was allowed to keep the car until the term of the lease expired, no?
     
  8. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    There's a lot in this film I would like to take issue with, but having not seen it yet I won't.

    Without getting too political from here, I'll just assume you give it a hearty recommendation and leave it at that.
     
  9. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Sure, although it does seem kind of odd that the lessees would not be given the option to buy. Considering that instead of spending money to warehouse and then destroy the vehicles (and alienate wealthy, high-profile customers), GM could have continued accepting money for an extended lease or purchase... I mean, that's odd, right?
     
  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I've not seen the movie. But perhaps leaving the cars out there obliges GM to provide a costly support infrastructure for a low volume for several years.

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