Who Killed The Electric Car?

Synopsis: With gasoline prices approaching $4/gallon, fossil fuel shortages, unrest in oil producing regions around the globe and mainstream consumer adoption and adoption of the hybrid electric car (more than 140,000 Prius' sold this year), this story couldn't be more relevant or important. The foremost goal in making this movie is to educate and enlighten audiences with the story of this car, its place in history and in the larger story of our car culture and how it enables our continuing addiction to foreign oil. This is an important film with an important message that not only calls to task the officials who squelched the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, but all of the other accomplices, government, the car companies, Big Oil, even Eco-darling Hydrogen as well as consumers, who turned their backs on the car and embrace embracing instead the SUV. Our documentary investigates the death and resurrection of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in our cou
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Chris Paine
Production: Sony Pictures Classics
  4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
92 min

Ladies and gentlemen,

we are gathered here today

to berieve the loss

of something dear to us.

We are here today to say

goodbye to a special friend,

to say goodbye to an idea.

Some might say that

to be here gathered today

to mourn the loss of a car

would be going too far.

In 1996, electric cars began to appear

on roads all over California.

They were quiet and fast,

produced no exhaust

and ran without gasoline.

Ten years later, these futuristic

cars were almost entirely gone.

What happened?

Why should we be haunted

by the ghost of the electric car?

This wasn't the first time

the electric car was killed.

One hundred years ago,

there were more electrics on the road

than there were gas cars.

For many people electric

cars were the car of choice.

They were quiet an smooth,

and could be charged at home.

Gas cars by comparison required

cranking and produced exhaust.

I'm so old I remember electric cars,

when they were around in the beginning.

I would've been about six years old

on the way to the symphony

in that darling little electric car.

They were very quiet, and it

had beveled glass windows.

It was almost like

sitting inside a huge lamp.

What happened?

Why did the gas car win

over the electric car?

As the 20th century gathered speed,

the electric car lost momentum.

Automatic starters, cheaper

oil and mass production

gave the edge to the gasoline car.

By 1920, the internal combustion

engine had won the race

for control of the roads.

And the modern automobile age was born.

Of the hundreds of millions

of cars built in the 20th century,

almost none were electric.

They were sleek.

They were fast.

And they gave Americans the open road.

But as time went on, their

number one flaw became apparent.


California has the worst

air quality in the nation.

And it impacts some of our

largest population centers.

In my district, we have what is

called the "black cloud of death"

that hangs over the port areas

and the areas surrounding the ports.

We are seeing some

tremendously debilitating effects:

asthma rates, cancer rates,

lung development in children,

children not being

allowed to play outside.

In 1989, a study found

that one out of four 15 to 25

year-olds in Los Angeles county

had severe lung lesions

and chronic respiratory disease.

In 1990, there were 41

stage one smog alerts.

No matter what kind of car we drive,

every gallon of gas we burn,

adds 19 pounds of carbon dioxide to the air.

The more gas we burn,

the more CO2 we create.

If you don't do something with

that CO2, if you don't sequester it

it's going up into the atmosphere

and CO2 is a global warming gas.

I believe the problems of

global warming will be far greater

than the problems of social security

or even the problems of war on terrorism.

We've got the equivalent of a nuclear time bomb

on our hand,

with global warming.

If lung disease from air

pollution is unimportant,

if all those things don't count,

we're going to be in bad trouble.

And there's a public health crisis.

But we have to have incentives

and we have to have alternatives.

Car companies experimented

with alternatives over the years,

but none of them ever seem to

make it out of the proving grounds.

I remember, I was the chairman of the

board of the Tennessee Valley Authority,

and we were promoting the electric

car back in the late 70's.

I had even planned a race

from Gatlinburg, Tennessee

to Nashville

between Paul Newman

and Robert Redford.

And I had it all lined up, and then

I realised that we'd get a lot of national publicity,

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Chris Paine

Chris Paine is an American filmmaker. His most notable works to date as director are the documentaries Who Killed the Electric Car? and Revenge of the Electric Car. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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