My wife, Glenda, is one of those lucky ladies who can always count on an exciting Saturday night. This past one, in spite of her better judgment, she joined me for "Who Killed the Electric Car," at the Grandin Theater.
In a stroke of pure luck, we were the only ones there to see the 9:25 pm showing so we got a private viewing after I wandered downstairs to remind them to turn on the film.
Actually all joking aside, you really should see this film. The duplicity uncovered by this film is amazing. The oil companies, the California government, the car companies, and our oil drenched federal government all share in the blame for the death of the electric car. We're fortunate that there is a good chance of a re-birth.
It's really hard for me to believe that we would have a government so opposed to energy conservation that President would actually join a lawsuit to kill the California regulation that spawned the electric car.
General Motors and other companies actually started producing electric cars in 1996 in order to meet the requirement of a new California regulation that required the companies to have a certain percentage of zero emissions car on the road in California if they wanted to continue selling car in California.
Much to General Motors' credit they produced a very well designed, speedy, and highly acceptable consumer electric car. They leased them to a few people, and people absolutely loved them in spite of their limited range (around 120 miles). They had almost zero repairs and California even went to the trouble of creating the infrastructure so you could charge them while at work.
Then a strange thing happened. It was almost as if the car companies and our governments decided that the electric cars were a virus that needed to be erased from the face of the earth. The car companies joined by the US government sued California to change the regulation. The chairman of the board of the organization charged with making and enforcing the laws managed to get a sugar plum job in a fuel cell research group. The next thing you know California has bought off on the idea that fuel cells are an answer to our oil addiction. Of course the electric car was already on the road and working, and according to the movie we need five miracles or so before fuel cell cars get here in the next twenty years.
The electric cars, which were all leased, were removed from the roads and crushed in spite of people begging to be able to buy them.
Now the President is touting ethanol. Anything to keep fuel flowing through the oil commpanies. This is a sobering movie which shows just how far our government has sunk and how tied up it is with big business and big oil. After seeing General Motors' behavior in this movie, it's hard to consider ever buying another General Motor vehicle. There are two sides to every story so if you want to read GM's response, you can read it at "GM'S FORWARD PROGRESS: FACTS VERSUS FICTION."
The only good thing to come out of the electric car experiment was that Toyota was so afraid of some of the hybrid technology that was being developed in the US that they launched a crash program which has given us the Prius.
General Motors which had access to the hybrid technology but has seemingly ignored it until recently. A comment attributed to GM was that Toyota would go broke trying to sell hybrids. That doesn't appear to be the case.
There is some even better news. People are creating modified models of the Toyota Prius that have enhanced batteries which can be charged overnight and which allow for extended electric motor only use. These modified cars are called "plug-in hybrids."
I'm pretty excited about the potential of electric cars. The movie confirmed that we can't expect the government to ever cure us of our oil addiction, we'll have to do it ourselves.
Having just seen "Who Killed the Electric Car?", I'm a little suspicious of the government. You don't suppose that the lower gasoline prices we're seeing might have anything to do with an upcoming election where the oil men in power aren't being viewed in a particularly favorable light?