Who Killed The Electric Car?
Stars: Phyllis Diller, Mel Gibson
Director: Chris Paine
*** (out of five)
In 1990, the state of California passed the “zero-emissions” bill, requiring automakers wishing to sell their products in that state to manufacture a specified percentage of environmentally friendly vehicles every year.
In 1997, General Motors introduced the EV-1, an entirely electric vehicle capable of driving 60 miles per 45-minute charge, produced no exhaust and required minimal maintenance. It was actively promoted by such TV faces as thirtysomething’s Peter Horton and Baywatch’s Alexandra Paul, and embraced by Hollywood A-listers Tom Hanks and Mel Gibson.
In 2003, GM began withdrawing its entire EV-1 fleet, taking the cars out to the Arizona desert — and crushing them into landfill.
As director Chris Paine’s agit-prop documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? demonstrates, despite the company’s almost concentrated effort to undersell the greenest product it had ever produced, the EV-1 was so beloved by its drivers that it had to be ripped out of their garages.
Paine tells this story twice, tracing the development, introduction and eventual culling of the EV-1, then rolls back through the footage to investigate various “suspects” in its destruction. But it’s a fascinating story.