Although GM puts up a good argument as to why they did not mass produce the EV1, one cannot help wonder why a corporate giant with the profits of GM could not see the tremendous potential in the EV1 and due further research on the car.

Who Killed the Electric Car - Review

James Russo

Although GM puts up a good argum
Although GM puts up a good argument as to why they did not mass produce the EV1, one cannot help wonder why a corporate giant with the profits of GM could not see the tremendous potential in the EV1 and due further research on the car.
A Review by James Russo

Chris Paine's 90 minute documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car ?" is both a fascinating look at the relationship between consumers in the United States and large corporations and a frightening statement on the United State's attitude towards the environment. The documentary makes a perfect companion piece with "An Inconvenient Truth: A Global Warming". Al Gore's documentary warns about the dangers of global warming on the planet if left unchecked and Who Killed the Electric Car ? gives un a view into what exactly is being done about global warming.

Who Killed the Electric Car ? is a complex film which raises almost as many questions and issues as it seeks to answer. The film follows a series of people who were among the first in the united States to be able to lease an electric car …the experimental General Motors vehicle called simply, EV1 for Electric Vehicle 1. After owning the EV1 for three years, many of the people who leased the cars wanted to buy them from GM, however, GM refused to sell them the cars. The cars were taken away on flatbed trucks despite the repeated attempts by people who leased the cars to purchase them from GM. All of the EV1s were taken to a remote GM test facility and crushed.

The documentary seeks to find a solution as to why and how this could happen in a country such as ours which is supposedly leading the way in creating fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles. General Motors claims that the EV1 was an experimental vehicle only and leasers understood that when they leased the car it would be up to GM if the car was approved for purchase. In the documentary, GM further claims that although the EV1 performed well during the lease period, there was no strong consumer sentiment to purchase cars like the EV1. General Motors stated that many motorists felt uncomfortable driving a car which could possibly die out on them and the driver not have easy access to a place where the car could be recharged.

The small group of motorists who leased the EV1's and then tried to fight GM's decision to destroy the experimental car are really the focus of the film. Most of the motorists give a sincere and heartfelt plea to GM to keep producing the car and rarely has it ever been shown in an American documentary just how attached American's are to automobiles. Oddly enough, the first documentary to accurately deal with America's love affair and sometimes obsession with cars is about a car of which there were only 50 produced and now all of those 50 have been destroyed.

The documentary's overall main point is General Motors and how a blue- chip corporate juggernaut squashed the hopes and dreams of a small community of motorists who believed in the future of the electric car. Although GM puts up a good argument as to why they did not mass produce the EV1, one cannot help wonder why a corporate giant with the profits of GM could not see the tremendous potential in the EV1 and due further research on the car.

Overall, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" is a sobering statement on America's fascination with automobiles, but in the same stroke how that fascination cannot now be altered to accommodate the needs of the planet and of the environment. If the U.S. is to lead the world in its environmental policies, then that leadership must include, at the very least, the drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuel burning vehicles. In yet another irony showcased in the film, Toyota a longtime rival of GM has been successful in the last two years in selling its Toyota Prius on a global scale. Although not exactly like the EV1, the Prius was designed on lessons learned from the EV1 and other purely electric cars. Sensing that consumers felts uncomfortable with an electric vehicle powered only by batteries, Toyota took the EV1 to the next step and created the Prius which is a hybrid utilizing both gas and electric power.

 

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