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Who Killed the Electric Car?
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Reviews & Ratings for
Who Killed the Electric Car? More at IMDbPro »

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154 out of 222 people found the following review useful:

Thorough and interesting review of an important, hidden issue!

Author: veganskater from United States
7 June 2006

I think this movie is wonderful. Can't understand the low rating on this site so far--I really wouldn't be surprised if those individuals and industries who stand to lose profits from the revelations of the movie, have voted negatively to artificially reduce its average rating on this well-known site. I mean, jeez, the movie hasn't even debuted yet (I saw an advanced screening)! And already it's only at a four-something? C'mon! Since I leased and drove an EV daily for three years(until it was rear-ended), I feel I'm in a good position to realistically evaluate the movie. Let's face it, it's a story that needs to be told. These issues impact everyone, since everyone is affected by air quality, unstable foreign politics, gas prices, transportation, and (lack of) consumer choice. EV technology is here, now. Unlike the fuel cell, which is perpetually 10 years in the future. Why was it taken away from the consumers who wanted it? Why does our society not promote the mentality that multiple solutions (EVs, fuel cells, hybrids, bicycles, mass transit, increased fuel economy, etc. etc.) all need to be employed to attack our problems with pollution and dependence on foreign oil? Why are there all these myths that the electric car is undesirable and not viable? Consumers and policy makers need to know this story.

As a driver who lived and followed the story, I think the movie does a bang-up job of revealing it. The movie begins with a historical look at the development of the electric car, what factors discouraged it back then, what brought it back to life in the 1990's, its amazing features, and why it is no longer available to consumers as a production vehicle. (conversion kits only, folks!) The movie is filled with history, politics, technology, innovation, and some very interesting personalities. It's woven together well and is smooth and fascinating. Even though it's a documentary, it will not put you to sleep! Go on--go see it. Even if you don't agree with it, you won't regret it. We all have a responsibility to be more active with these issues, and in the meantime it's a fascinating story.

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142 out of 209 people found the following review useful:

See it and believe it

Author: lise-36 from United States
2 June 2006

Director Chris Paine is no dummy. As a onetime owner of an electric car (the EV1) and a savvy filmmaker, he has quadruple checked his facts—and they are alarming. Although the electric car obviously depends upon coal or oil for its power, electricity is far cleaner than gasoline in the long run with less carbon output. Additionally, the batteries are recyclable, and electric cars make fewer demands in other environmental ways: There are no oil changes, oil filters, spark plugs and other parts and services that conventional autos require. Each of these parts carries its own environmental cost.

See this film. It has nothing to do with the current price of gas and everything to do with corruption on many levels.

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137 out of 207 people found the following review useful:

You MUST see this Film

Author: joeytino from United States
11 June 2006

This film WILL frustrate you greatly. It's that simple. All of this talk about cars of the future with hydrogen fuel cells in 15 or 20 years from now is ridiculous. The car of the future was here, and they killed it. I won't say the first cars were perfect, but remember that NASA blew up a lot of rockets before getting it right, same with electric cars. The first ones could only do approx 80-100 miles on a charge. Most of us only commute that far to work, and these cars would have served us perfectly. Without one drop of gas. Battery technology has improved tremendously since then, and even while the EV was in production there were improvements. Mr. Paine presents a surprisingly balanced film that time and again exhibits mans' greed, stupidity, shortsightedness and another excellent example of American corporate stupidity. I firmly believe that General Motors would not be in the financial hole it is currently in if it continued exploring the electric car program. You have to start somewhere and GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda were the trailblazers and they all did it. Electric cars were built that not only worked, but worked well, and only would get better as battery technology improved. They did it because the State of California forced them to. The automakers pushed back and California blinked. It's no wonder that shortly thereafter all of the electric car programs were killed and the quiet destruction of most of the cars began. Some survived and are still in use. (An electric Toyota RAV4 sold on eBay in April 2006 for $60,000.) This film is successful not because of a political leaning one way or the other, but because of the flagrant lack of common sense on display by most parties, and on that level it's extremely frustrating because we have the technology to start reducing our dependence on oil now.

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132 out of 214 people found the following review useful:

"I can't believe I cried over a car"

Author: maguffinator from United States
2 May 2006

I just saw this at the festival. Wow. What an awesome film (and soundtrack)!! This isn't just a film about a car, it's film about us, but more than that, it's an uplifting film about us. Most documentaries make me want to jump off a bridge after I leave the theater, but this one gave me hope. In the pre-hybrid days, the EV1 fully electric car was released by GM in the 1990s with great fanfare and hubris from Roger Smith (yes, the same Roger Smith as "Roger & Me".) It caught on quickly with consumers and gave GM a 3 year technological head start over the other manufactures. GM, however, had inadvertently built a car that required no gas, no oil, and no replacement parts. If they'd stayed the course, GM would be where Toyota is today with the Prius, but with no gas required. But they, and a host of others, chose a different course. This films chronicles the struggle of the dedicated EV drivers (men and women, everyday folks) who decided to take a stand. A stand against who? A stand against auto manufacturers, big oil, the federal government, the state of California, and ultimately their fellow consumers. If one person can make a difference, wait until you see what a growing coalition of one-persons can do (and are doing)! Be afraid, Goliath, be very afraid. As one girl in the audience put it, "I can't believe I cried over a car...twice."

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29 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Let's suck some serious amps

Author: Dennis Littrell from United States
6 December 2007

Probably the most alarming thing about this story of how the electric car was literally destroyed is what it reveals about the power of corporations to control our lives. Film maker Chris Paine, himself an EV1 owner, makes it clear that it was big corporations, especially big oil, and most especially General Motors itself, that woke up one day and asked themselves the multi-billion dollar question: Is an economical and efficient electric vehicle really good for business? In the case of the oil companies, obviously not since such a vehicle would not be burning any gas or needing any motor oil. In the case of the car manufacturers themselves, especially GM, which actually spent some very serious bucks on developing the EV1, the answer came as a bit of a surprise. First of all, they asked themselves, in the long run are you going to make more money building small efficient vehicles or behemoths like the Hummer? It didn't take long for them to figure out that the profit margins would be higher with the bigger vehicles. And then they realized that with the EV1 they wouldn't be able to sell many of their combustion-engine parts like oil filters and such. Furthermore, the EV1 was built to comply with California law. Doing some more thinking, GM realized that it would never do to allow some state government to tell them what to manufacture. If things worked out in California, before you know it, the whole nation might very well go plug-in.

So, as shown so vividly in this documentary, the car manufactures and the oil companies bought up or scared enough politicians so that the law requiring zero emissions in California went the way of the dodo. Meanwhile GM, which had been leasing the EV1, recalled them all and literally destroyed them. Paine has some nice footage showing the brand new and near brand new cars being crushed while EV1 lovers protested in vain. Nationally of course we know about the bills congress passed allowing truck-sized vehicles to continue to guzzle gas (mostly SUVs) and how 6,000-pound vehicles were given massive tax breaks for small business owners (mostly anybody but a wage earner).

There is of course plenty of controversy about whether the story presented by Paine (narration by Martin Sheen, by the way) is fair and accurate. I did a little research--there is a ton of information on the Web--and what became obvious after not too long was that the electric car not only is a viable alternative to the combustion engine car but really is the wave of the future whether General Motors and the other car manufacturers know it or not. For now, however, they are not about to change their ways. They have too much of a vested interest in business as it is.

The hydrogen fuel cell red herring is addressed, and, with help from Joseph J. Romm, who wrote The Hype about Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate (2004), which I highly recommend, got fed to the dogs. Naturally there is a clip of George W. Bush pretending to support the hydrogen fuel cell car, even though I am sure he knows that economically it's not even close to a match for the electric car. Getting the Great Prevaricator to advance the propaganda put out by the oil and vehicle companies surely is something close to proof positive that it's BS.

Especially watchable is the clip from Huell Howser's PBS show in which we get to see the EV1s not only being crushed but pulverized into little bits for recycling.

So, what's it all about, Alfie? It's just as Eisenhower warned: beware not just of the industrial-military complex taking over our lives, but beware of corporations in general buying up all the politicians and writing all the laws. In fact, with the way the mass electorate is influenced by advertising, only politicians pre-approved through campaign donations from big corporations have a chance of even getting the nomination of either of the two main political parties. And without that nomination, effectively speaking, they can't win.

Regardless of all the machinations by GM, et al., I think our grandchildren will be driving mostly electric vehicles with nary a gas station in sight. And they will be inundated with "green" ads in the media with lots of flowers and little girls paid for by General Motors and Toyota, telling us how they are responsible for the shiny, new clean world.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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33 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Thank you for the public death notice.

Author: view_and_review from California
25 June 2007

I don't have many documentaries to my credit as far as how many I've watched, but I thought this was great. Part of its appeal was its bringing to light an issue that was either completely unknown to most Americans, or otherwise forgotten. If you consider the parameters surrounding the short lived electric car, then it is easy to see how many of us wouldn't even have known there was a killer of the electric car. Consider that there were few made by GM, Ford, and Honda. Consider that they were only released in California and Arizona. Consider that in those markets not many were sold. And finally, consider that none of the car companies spent much money or effort into advertising these vehicles, then you can see how so many of us were largely ignorant of the plight of the electric car.

This documentary was very informative and fact driven which I appreciate. Sure, politics played some role in it all, but when doesn't politics play a role in major issues? This documentary really be-smudged GM, but since I'm not a GM enthusiast, it didn't bother me one bit. I'd even go so far as to say that this documentary was the only thing that actually made me feel guilty about owning a Hummer. SUV's are my only environmental vice. I recycle, I don't litter, I try to stay away from aerosols, and I generally do what I can... except when it comes to SUV's.

It was interesting to see the active annihilation of the electric car. One can only wonder what the advances in electric vehicles would be if they were to have remain in production. Everyone knows how resourceful and inventive humans can be. Given the right incentive (money), there would probably have been about a dozen upgrades to the electric car and the infrastructure from '96 til now. And to think my home state of California had the chance to be the thorn in the side of the auto industry to effect change but then blinked, only goes to show just how mighty the oil and auto industries are. But I still believe that the electric car will make a second coming. Because if the environment is not enough of an incentive for people to make a change, gas prices certainly will be.

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25 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Interesting look at a hidden topic

Author: BroadswordCallinDannyBoy from Boston, MA
12 February 2007

A look into the anticipated introduction of electric cars in the mid '90s to their mysterious recall a few years later. The documentary talks to former electric car owners, government personnel and others while examining the automobile industry and the laws that around it. All trying to draw a conclusion about why this clean, efficient, sleek yet affordable vehicle was pushed from the market in the midst of global warming and rising gasoline prices.

The film presents an interesting and largely hidden topic. Giving a brief history of the electric car, which interestingly used to be more popular than gasoline based cars (!!!!), it will leave most viewers scratching their head and wanting to know more. The resulting investigation is surprisingly large in scope and encompasses many things from the highest echelons of government right down to average Joe. All in a brisk 91 minutes.

However, the film is not just interesting, it addresses many concerns that have been rising faster and faster for a while now, which makes it also an important documentary. --- 9/10

Rated PG: "brief mild language." That's funny, Jaws, with all of it's terror, gore and death is rated PG too.

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22 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Warning : Watching this may lead you to buy an electric car.

Author: mandeep2632 from Punjab, India
28 January 2007

Highly recommended to anyone and everyone. I have given a 10/10 rating to this documentary because to me the whole electric car concept looks quite feasible and in fact more reliable than the gasoline cars. Some people may say that the documentary is biased in favor of the electric car but what about the biasing that has been done by Unlce Sam, Oil Companies, CARB and a whole lot of agencies we don't even know that were involved towards saving the gasoline cars. And I would also like to tell that I am not an environmentalist, not a member of any save the electric car group. All I want to say is that watch this documentary and you be the judge in the end.

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19 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A very good documentary that put its biases up front

Author: salorkent from Seattle, Wa.
15 June 2007

I'm neither a liberal or a conservative (yes, there are other options!)and while I expected to read the usual 'party lines' concerning the politics of this movie ... I was AMAZED at how many people missed the point of the movie. This wasn't, at its heart, a movie about the politics of energy. Rather, it was a human story about people who found, and even fell in love, with a preferred form of transportation, only to have it taken away from them against their will. ***CAUTION --- POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*** I don't think what I'm about to say will spoil the movie experience, but I decided to play it safe. The most amazing part of the story, to me, concerns the quiet battle between General Motors and the EV1 lessees who wanted desperately to keep their vehicles. Why did GM take such a hard core approach? It seemed to me a more conciliatory approach would have done the embattled auto-maker a world of good. To me, that was the question that drove the story. Yes, most of the people who apparently leased one of GM's electric cars were celebrities and/or people of some measure of wealth. So what? Anyone who likes electronic gadgetry has heard the expression "early adopter," referring to those with money who purchase state-of-the-art equipment at high prices, thereby fueling the development and investment that pushes products to consumer-level pricing. GM's inability to realize this is what makes the whole story fascinating. I encourage anyone who would, to watch the movie closely, and see If this doesn't ring true. Now, having said my piece about the movie, let me throw some comments about energy policy into the fray. 1) We absolutely, positively need gas to reach a price of $5 a gallon or more. Why? Supply and demand. Only when it HURTS to drive a gas guzzler, will most of us finally get off that doomed bandwagon. 2) We had a solution to coal produced electricity in our laps twenty years ago, and a piece of Hollywood drivel ("The China Syndrome")turned us into weenies. Yes, folks, I mean nuclear power. It CAN and IS producing power safely, and environmentally soundly. Just not here in the U.S., by and large. Finally, 3) Supporting the development of electric-only cars is a viable choice. With the improvements being made in solar panel technology, I suspect a working battery-solar hybrid may be a very real option in the NEAR future. If we avoid the stupidity this movie helps us to understand.

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62 out of 114 people found the following review useful:

Great movie everyone should see it

Author: ( from United States
3 May 2006

This movie really highlights problems with American business. It seems that even after killing the electric car, there is actually a concerted effort afoot to kill the electric car movie. I can see that someone might not give it a 10 but a 2? Come on, its a great movie. Someone appears to be lowballing the vote. How anyone can build a love story and turn it into a tragedy -- about a car is amazing but unfortunately believable. I don't believe in conspiracy theories but I guess here it is just a strongly for or strongly against issue so it really isn't a conspiracy. However, I see the misinformation brigade that the movie caught in its own lies is at it even here at IMDb. Can you imagine a car company recalling all its cars, crushing them and killing the entire line just because a safety standard changed? Come on, whoever wrote that, please tell us what wavers were made? That explanation just doesn't make sense. A little more engineering and any problems (if there are any) can be solved. I highly recommend that anyone who drives, breathes, or hates to buy gas should see this movie.

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