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on 20 August 2017
A fascinating insight into the mindset of the motor and oil industries, who basically realised that the electric car was a huge threat to their business models and so decided to kill it off - or the EV1 at least.

Would be a very sad story if it wasn't for all the progress being made now - Tesla, Volvo et al bringing electic cars mainstream!
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on 30 May 2017
An excellent insight into global control and out of step with current thinking then but hopefully not now.
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on 17 March 2017
This is a well made documentary film that highlights the devious ways of misinformation. We discuss this film at length on the electric car podcast.
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VINE VOICEon 22 August 2007
This great documentary, directed by Chris Paine shows the last days of the electric cars being dramatically taken from their owners to be destroyed.

I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in electric vehicles and being non Dependant on petrol.

I heard about this documentary in several internet pages discussing cars with low environmental impact, and it took me a while to get it, I bought form amazon.com (USA) region 1 and had to watch it in my computer.

I am glad this is now available in region 2 at a reasonable price (marketplace that is ).

The people who owned the cars felt very passionately about them and had real love for their cars and for they represented, it is heart breaking to see them being taken away in front of their eyes and how General Motors did its utmost to shred to small pieces.

The movie then goes to explore the several factors involved in the making of electric cars and the future possibilities of it ,including new batteries and solar panels , needless to say the car and oil industry will try very hard for them not the be available for the general public for a long time.

Sadly for us in Europe the range of electric cars is appallingly bad, there nothing but a glorified children's toy with an incredible short range and they look ugly, they are also most impractical.

There are some "super-hybrid" (125 mpg , plug-in hybrid with a range of 60 miles on electric ) cars that will be launched in them market before 2010 ,but nothing compared to the beauty of the GM EV-1 which hit the roads in 1996.

I feel that the oil and car industry killed the electric car but maybe in the , no so far , future the electric car will kill the oil industry and I hope to be around to watch it .
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on 17 November 2006
In a film that will make you angry and disheartened, director Chris Paine explores the ominous confluence of big business and government and their efforts to get rid of the electric car, which ten years ago, looked as though it was going to set the automotive world on fire.

The reasons behinds reasons for the electric car's disappearance include corporate collusion and greed, governmental spinelessness and oil company propaganda. This does documentary does an excellent job of laying out what actually happened.

When General Motors terminated all leases of its fleet of fast, sleek EV's - the vehicle was never made available for purchase - the company ended up sending them to the crusher as Honda, Toyota and Ford also would pull their fleets off the streets. Determined to find out who ultimately was responsible stopping production, Paine cleverly structures his movie like a murder mystery, lining up the list of suspects and then methodically going through them.

In addition to the car companies and obviously the oil companies, who have grown accustomed to selling nearly 3 billion gallons of gas a week, fingers are also are pointed at the California Air Resources Board, which backed off of its original Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate under pressure from the auto industry and the Bush Administration (go figure).

While Paine, himself a one-time EV1 lessee, is unabashedly partial to the promise of electric-car technology over petrol, he includes interviewees who don't even agree a crime ever occurred and they argue that there was just lack of demand which ended the scant supply. Of course, oil companies ran ads claiming that the electric car was an environmental hazard and the public was just too shortsighted to see through the lies.

Later, the oil companies and the car manufacturers bought the rights to the electric car battery technology. And as Paine gathers such converts as Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Peter Horton and Alexandra Paul who talk about the advantages of having the car and how great it actually was, we see the gradual collusion of corporate and government interests gradually unfold.

Who Killed the Electric Car? makes a compelling case that the current discussion of hydrogen cell technology, as the successor to the internal combustion engine, but the movie also makes the point that hydrogen technology isn't nearly as efficient as electrical technology. The hydrogen cell is still decades away from being perfected, whilst the electric car was close to being practical - the cars were actually on the road!

And although the film ends on an optimistic note - with the current popularity of hybrid vehicles - it's still upsetting to see all these new clean electric cars - a hope for the future - being crushed, mangled and shredded.
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on 11 April 2007
Having watched this documentary I feel like I have been living in a hole in the ground for the last 20 years. How did I not know about this?

Assuming that the information in this doc is accurate (I am sceptical about everything I see and read these days), it appears that in the 90s many of the car manufacturers had working production models of electric cars that were environmentally friendly and practical for the typical use of most people. They were basically killed off by a combination of the car companies, the oil companies and of course politicians (Bush et al). The cars were fast, silent and could run for about 60 miles before a charge. Modern batteries are even more effective, allowing better reliability and much greater range. With the right investment and promotion from the car companies and government, the title of this movie might have been Who Killed The Petrol Engine?

It appears that the car companies deliberately prevented the cars from becoming successful, seizing them all back from the owners whether they wanted to hang onto them or not. The reason? Officially the car companies say that the cars were not popular or practical and poured investment into the hydrogen cell which has still not produced a practical, workable car. The real reason? The trillions of dollars of potential future profits to be made by the oil companies.

This documentary opens your eyes to the self destructive nature of the human race, a world where personal greed wins over reason and politicians are controlled by corporations. It also makes you reconsider your attitude to the Middle East and world politics generally. This film has converted me.
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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 advertizing, 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.
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on 18 May 2009
Great DVD - says it all. Is a must see for everyone.
Credit must go to the people who made it, and brought about the reversal of the US govt's attitude to global change.
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on 13 April 2007
I'm a former Californian, and can testify to the truth of this documentary's information. More important, though, is the broad sweep of the film. Yes, the story of how the electric car was killed is interesting, but the overall implications of what it means to the future of humanity, of the motivation behind corporations, of the subtle manipulations by them, of how they act in ways that appear on the surface to be contrary to their benefit, but serve to optimize profits in the near term - the long term simply being of no interest to them, no more than the welfare of people or even humanity's survival - these things are starkly presented.

This movie gave me the sensation of a knot in my gut. Sadly, it didn't give me any sense of hope for the future - but it did make clear that hope rides on the actions of individuals, and that it's individuals who make up the bulk of humanity, not the few with wealth who destroy the environment for profit.
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on 9 April 2008
Very interesting documentary about the coming and going - very soon afterwards - of the Electric car to the US. It must have been quite a threat to some very paranoid and short sighted people to have wanted an electric car off the road so quickly. The good news is that we are not sitting around waiting for big business to solve our transport problems for us. Instead, necessity being the mother of invention, there are some clever but small businesses coming up with viable alternatives, check out the Water4gas website. Or more radical still have a look at the magnetic motors being demonstrated on Youtube.
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