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Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)

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A documentary that investigates the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future.


Chris Paine


Chris Paine
4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Martin Sheen ... Narrator (voice)
Reverend Gadget Reverend Gadget ... Himself (as Greg 'Gadget' Abbott)
Dave Barthmuss Dave Barthmuss ... Himself
Ed Begley Jr. ... Himself
Jim Boyd Jim Boyd ... Himself
Alec N. Brooks Alec N. Brooks ... Himself
Alan Cocconi Alan Cocconi ... Himself
John R. Dabels John R. Dabels ... Himself
Phyllis Diller ... Herself
Colette Divine ... Herself
Tom Everhart Tom Everhart ... Himself
David Freeman David Freeman ... Himself (as S. David Freeman)
Frank Gaffney Frank Gaffney ... Himself (as Frank J. Gaffney Jr.)
Mel Gibson ... Himself
Greg Hanssen Greg Hanssen ... Himself


With gasoline prices approaching $4/gallon, fossil fuel shortages, unrest in oil producing regions around the globe and mainstream consumer adoption and adoption of the hybrid electric car (more than 140,000 Prius' sold this year), this story couldn't be more relevant or important. The foremost goal in making this movie is to educate and enlighten audiences with the story of this car, its place in history and in the larger story of our car culture and how it enables our continuing addiction to foreign oil. This is an important film with an important message that not only calls to task the officials who squelched the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, but all of the other accomplices, government, the car companies, Big Oil, even Eco-darling Hydrogen as well as consumers, who turned their backs on the car and embrace embracing instead the SUV. Our documentary investigates the death and resurrection of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in our ... Written by Richard D. Titus

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In 1996, electric cars began to appear on roads all over California. They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline...........Ten years later, these cars were destroyed. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

4 August 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chi ha ucciso l'auto elettrica? - Un giallo che si tinge d'oro nero See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$45,138, 2 July 2006, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,677,838, 12 November 2006

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,222,746, 20 August 2006
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The boxy, small EV shown being crushed in the movie was the Honda EV-Plus. They, like the sleek GM EV-1, were only available for lease; several returned to Honda, and were converted into fuel cell demonstration vehicles. For a while, you were able to lease them through EV Rentals (at several Budget Rent a Car locations). See more »


Eric Garcetti: I was an EV1 driver, still am, from 1998 until December of this year when GM will have to pry it out of my charger's dead cold hands.
See more »


Features The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991) See more »


Hwy X
Written and Performed by DJ Harry
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User Reviews

Let's suck some serious amps
6 December 2007 | by DeeNine-2See all my reviews

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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