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Film review: Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)



The 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? looks at the creation and limited commercialised the electric car achieved in the 1990s in the US.

In the 90s, electric cars were beginning to appear in California but within 10 years these sustainable vehicles had almost disappeared. This film examines the reasons why.

A number of different players from the government to the oil industry and automotive manufacturers are examined to see how their role affected the development and acceptance of the technology.

The film looks specifically at the General Motors EV1 and shows that despite owners of the vehicles being happy with the car they were taken back and destroyed. Whilst General Motors says it stopped producing the car due to lack of demand, the film suggests that it was actually down to profits for both the auto and oil industries.

The film is put together well and interestingly takes the structure of a murder mystery, exploring what motives each organisation and industry would have for killing the electric car.

Celebrities that drove the EV1, including Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson, are interviewed in the documentary talking positively about the vehicle. It also takes a critical view of hydrogen vehicles, stating that it was a distraction that delayed the exploration of more encouraging technologies, including the electric car.

The documentary is thought-provoking and makes viewers consider the power corporations have and how greed ultimately won against the environment in this case. Its director, Chris Paine, spoke to Blue & Green Tomorrow in 2011 about the film and its follow-up, Revenge of the Electric Car, which was released in 2012.

Who Killed the Electric Car? looks at the future of the electric car and what possible developments there could be in the future, such as more efficient batteries and plug-in hybrids. The film concludes optimistically that the electric car will gain in popularity.