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Who Killed The Electric Car? September 25, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Sustainable Living.

The thought-provoking documentary, Who Killed The Electric Car (2006), reveals what auto manufacturers and oil companies already know ~ clean,  green technology is available.  

Drivers who leased EV-1 electric cars in the 1990’s loved the fast, quiet, and eco-friendly cars. 

In response, General Motors ceased production, and crushed the cars. 

After California eliminated the zero emission mandate, GM terminated the existing leases, collected the EV-1 cars already on the road, and destroyed them, citing lack of consumer demand as its rationale. 

Hmm . . . that’s odd. 

People who leased the cars from GM told filmmakers they loved the EV-1, and begged to keep them.  When they offered to buy the cars, GM refused their offers, terminated the leases, and crushed the cars.

That doesn’t sound like lack of consumer demand to me.

A more plausible explanation, and one explored in the film: GM abandoned production of its electric car, the EV-1, because (1) automotive dealers make BIG money from the maintenance required on internal combustion engines, and (2) Big Oil pushed GM to bury the product. 

This film offers a sobering look at how big business bands together to put profits above the planetary concerns that should be pre-eminent in everyone’s minds. 

Aren’t these profit-hungry executives concerned about the world they’re leaving to their kids and grand-kids?

Apparently not.

Did lack of consumer demand or conspiracy to maintain the status quo stall  EV-1 production?  

You decide.   For a sneak preview:  Who Killed The Electric Car?

* * * * *

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has a Hybrid Center set up to track consumer spending patterns.  Guess what?  The demand for electric vehicles exceeds the supply:  2011 Nissan Leaf Sold Out

In related news:  UPS Expands its Hybrid Fleet in Texas


1. Agatha82 - September 25, 2010

That’s just bloody awful. How sad. The other day, as I walked through the park, I noticed a little pick up truck parked by the side of the caretaker/maintenance cottage and I noticed it was plugged into a giant socket and I stopped and smiled because it was obviously running on electric power. So, there’s hope out there but the car companies have way too much power and so do the oil companies and big corporations…sigh

nrhatch - September 25, 2010

And politicians back up these profit hungry corporations.

Time for a change.

2. Paula - September 25, 2010

See my most recent post, “Death and Taxes,” on a similar subject.


At the same time we push electric cars, we need to address the way we produce electricity, which could possibly open another can of pollution worms if not dealt with creatively! I still say the higher the gas tax, the less we will rely on gasoline! Big business and special interests have far too much influence in Washington – it’s enough to make this grown woman cry – and she does – frequently!

nrhatch - September 25, 2010

I did read your post on Death and Taxes. I guess I didn’t have anything to add to your insights.

We have many options available that don’t require raping the planet. Problem is that the government is subsidizing the wrong horse.

3. Paula - September 25, 2010

You aren’t required to add anything! 😀
I know there are many options – I’m all for them – we just need to make way for the entrepreneurs who are developing all the innovative ideas, and get big business out of our way.

nrhatch - September 25, 2010


What got us in trouble . . . saying things like “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”

Not anymore, anyway.

4. Tammy McLeod - September 26, 2010

I’m absolutely positive that it was conspiracy! I saw this movie at Sundance and was amazed that it was the first I’d heard of this.

nrhatch - September 26, 2010

I agree with you.

Given the current focus on energy, etc., I’m satisfied that GM would have re-introduced the car by now, if “lack of demand” had been the motivating factor for its disappearance.

5. judson2history - September 27, 2010

Battery technology, fuel (electricity) distribution, and other limitations have held back development, but more than anything else, it has been the continued availability of “cheap” gasoline. $3.50/gallon is still relatigely cheap.

As a society, I believe we will continue to rely on internal combustion engines for transportation until the oil runs out or the price of gas becomes too much to bear … or both.

Demand will increase and incentives for development will appear along with demand. It’ll happen, just not sure how long it will take.

nrhatch - September 27, 2010

In a free market economy, it would already have happened.

The problem is that we no longer have a free market economy where supply and demand dictate the products on the market.

The “powers that be” control the flow.

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