Who Killed the Electric Car

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Consumption & the Environment (FSEM)
Professor Jhaveri
November 14, 2006

Who Killed the Electric Car?

The audience is the jury. Paine is the lawyer. The case: who killed the electric car? Suspects: the government, consumers, battery technology, oil companies, California Air and Resource Board (CARB) and the hydrogen fuel cell. Directed by Chris Paine, Who Killed the Electric Car? is a documentary about the demise of the electric car seen through the eyes of an electric car activist (previous GM EV1 owner) and current electric car driver (Toyota RAV4 EV). As Chris Paine takes the readers through the trial of who killed the electric car, his main focus is on the reasons for the removal of the electric car, how our economy is suffering because of this removal and how the electric car is slowly gaining popularity again.

This film is targeted towards GM shareholders, those who are interested in electric vehicles, or have questions or concerns about global warming, dependence on foreign oil, air pollution or the environment, so Paine primarily focuses on the fate of General Motors’ EV1 electric car. The EV1’s were introduced to the California market in 1996 in response to California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) legislation. California was in a pollution crisis. The amount of smog in the air threatened public health. The California Air and Resource Board (CARB) targeted the source of the problem, auto exhaust. The ZEV legislation required two percent of vehicles sold in California to be emissions free by 1998 and ten percent of the cars sold in California to be emissions free by 2003. With this new legislation, the reemergence of the electric car, a vehicle that was once popular in the thirties, began. Before this legislation General Motors had previewed an electric car, the Impact. Because it had flaws such as a low maximum speed, and low mileage per charge, it wasn’t popular. In 1996, General Motors introduced the Impact...
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