“Who Killed the Electric Car”

In the 2006 feature-length documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” writer/director Chris Paine makes absolutely no pretense of presenting a conflicted view on the matter of who killed the electric car!!!( http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com/ )In the first half of the feature, he presents us with a series of semi-famous talking heads including but not limited to five-time Presidential candidate Ralph Nader, battery engineer Wally Rippel and character actor turned sustainability advocate Ed Begley, Jr. all discussing the brief birth and adoption of the battery electric automobile and its subsequent death focusing primarily on the General Motors EV1. http://www.

whokilledtheelectriccar.com/The end of the electric car culminates in the reacquisition of all the leased EVs and their subsequent disassembly. This is followed by a dramatic protest funeral organized by former EV1 owners mourning the ‘death’ of the car. In the second half of feature, Paine begins to ask the question of who is to blame for the electric car’s death.Paine rhetorically asks whether the electric car’s death was largely a market failure, whose causes can be attributed to the technological limitations inherent to its design.

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Dan Neill attempts to embolden this view by stating that “GM would sell you a car that runs on pig shit if it sold.” (Philip R) What he means to imply is that General Motors would never conspire against their EV1, simply because they put profit above anything else. (Philip R)Consumers are not to blame for the death of the electric car. Paul Roberts, the author of The End of Oil notes that General Motors’ claims that consumer disinterest led to the downfall of the car, is not an entirely unrealistic one. (Nonna G) This is because the average consumer fails to see a difference between an ordinary car and an electric car. Paine dismisses this notion of consumer disinterest by noting that a vast number of individuals were unaware of the electric claim by interviewing consumers who were unaware of the electric car’s existence. (Nonna G)Those who did know of the car’s existence expressed significant disappointment in its decommissioning.

It is also important to note that the General Motors EV1 saw only limited release via a lease program.(www.evworld.com) This means that for the duration of its existence, it was largely unavailable to a vast majority of automobile users. (Nonna G)Some argue that consumers were not willing to compromise mileage range in exchange for environmental benefits.

However, Paine counters this by noting that improved battery technology was developed by the inventor Stanford Ovshinsky. However, Ovshinsky’s work was purchased by oil companies who optimistically promised that the technology would be utilized. (http://thecia.com.au )Paine also turns his camera to Chelsea and Bob Sexton, who observe that the electric car is also ridden with significantly less maintenance burdens than the internal combustion engine that powers a conventional automobile. (Manohla D) In addition to the significant absence of stains, grime and dirt in the maintenance of an electric car, there are far fewer parts that require replacement and repair. However, this means that auto dealerships are deprived of the income they normally earn from traditional automobiles. (http://thecia.

com.au )Oil companies such as Texaco and Mobil are to blame for the death of electric cars. Paine asserts that the electric car directly conflicted with the interests of oil companies, which made them afraid of the implications it had for their monopoly on transportation fuel.Dr. Joseph Romm of the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions notes that oil companies discouraged the electric battery as an alternative because it conflicted with their future profit. ( http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.

com/ )Government is to blame for the death of the electric car because it assisted oil companies. They were playing favorites to the former employers of Andrew Card, former Vice President of Government Relations at General Motors, and Condoleezza Rice, former member of the Chevron Board of Directors. In the case of the former, they were threatened by the idea that they were sitting on an obsolete resource, and fought successfully to ensure their profits.



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