Who Killed The Electric Car?

What if we told you we could all be driving fast, efficient electric vehicles that don’t need a drop of gasoline? What if we said the reason why America is still oil-dependant is pure greed?

That is precisely the point made in “Who Killed the Electric Car?” a new documentary that unveils many truths behind what seems like a deliberate ploy to stall the development of electric vehicle technology.

Who Killed the Electric Car?” is the story of the life and death of the EV1, the fast little electric car produced by GM between 1996 and 1998. A total of 1,117 vehicles were made and leased. Every single one of them was destroyed 6 years later in spite of positive feedback, long waiting lists and pleads by lessees who wanted to keep Them.

Although we can’t say the documentary is neutral, what makes it valid is that it’s packed with factual information. During what director Chris Paine calls a “long and painful” process, he conducted interviews with 34 individuals involved in the controversy, including the company’s representatives. Unlike other harsh criticism documentaries, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” takes into consideration the reasons provided by GM for its decision and the scientific research behind them. It concedes on certain points, although the conclusion is still that economic and political motives lead to the sudden death of the EV1.

The movie follows a murder plot, funeral and all, and then points fingers at the suspects: oil guys, car guys, government, the California Air Resource Board, hydrogen fuel cell and the consumer. According to the documentary, the American consumer is also to blame for making the wrong decision and shallowly choosing gas-guzzling SUVs during times of cheap gas.

Who isn’t guilty? The EV1’s batteries. Contrary to popular belief, the movie emphasizes that the electric batteries used in the EV1 were efficient enough to meet the needs of at least 90% of the population. Second generation EV1s used nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, which could travel 100-120 miles per charge. According to Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Americans drive an average of 29 miles a day.

However, GM still defends its decision to retire the EV1 because it was “far from viable commercial success.”

Who Killed an Electric Car?” has received mixed reviews, ranging from 2 to 5 stars. Regardless of what side of the controversy you’re on, it’s definitely worth watching.

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