March 29, 2007 -- “Who Killed the Electric Car?” is a documentary about an aborted experiment in California to pressure car manufacturers to supply zero-emission vehicles in order to reduce the state's terrible air quality problems. It goes far beyond that, however, to illustrate how big business controls government actions and policies at all levels. It also illustrates how major oil companies helped to eliminate vehicles which could have threatened their profits. The result is a series of government and business policy decisions which threaten this nation's security and which are causing climate change and increasingly unstable political situations in large areas of the world.
The star of the movie is the General Motors EV-1, an electric car that its owners adored. It is fast, sporty, quiet and charges on normal household current. It was designed and built in part to comply with California's 1990 Zero emissions mandate. After lawsuits and heavy political pressure, the state backed down on its zero emissions mandate and the electric cars were recalled and destroyed a few years ago. They were never sold to consumers, only leased. General Motors turned down nearly $2 million offered by car fans to buy its EV-1 fleet, opting to crush the cars instead.
This film was made by a fan of the EV-1 and while it does devote some time to GM's argument for abandoning the project, it is very much opposed to GM's decision, and makes no bones about that. The film examines the role of consumers, technology, oil companies, car companies and government in the demise of the electric car in California. Most of all, this film depicts the fanatic loyalty of the people who drove these electric cars and loved them. Some of them were arrested for trying to block trucks hauling the remaining stock of EV-1 cars from California to be destroyed. They kept a vigil day and night on the last electric cars being held at a Burbank car lot.
The film makes the argument that major oil companies and car manufacturers are really the ones writing the nation's laws regarding fuel economy and emissions. Those laws and standards are causing this country to become ever more dependent on foreign oil. That, in turn, is a major threat to this nation's security and is the direct cause of U.S. troops being sent twice to the Persian Gulf in recent years to try to secure a stable oil supply. The oil-rich Persian Gulf countries are major suppliers of funds to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The monarchies of the Middle East, who get most of their wealth and power from oil, are also one of the main sources of inequality and anger there. The inflated value of oil breeds terrorism and political instability wherever oil is found, in the Middle East, Africa or South America. All this because politicians in the United States and the people who vote for them are held captive by the oil companies and car manufacturers. They don't have the political will to wean this country from its dependence on foreign oil. This film rates a B.
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