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Who Killed the Electric Car? A Murder Mystery: Chris Paine's Documentary about the Death of Carbon Neutral Cars

Narrated by Martin Sheen, this all-star cast for Who Killed the Electric Car? begins at the funeral for the beautiful EV1 car, once made by GM. Despite protests, despite arrests of avid fans, despite air quality mandates in California, every EV1 was rounded up, confiscated and shredded. Who killed the car? Paine’s film takes a good, strong look at some of the primary suspects.

Hollywood Celebrity Fans of the Electric Car Have Bit Parts in the Movie

Several Hollywood stars appear in the film as advocates for the dearly departed electric car, including Ed Begely (Living with Ed), Phyllis Diller (comedian), Mel Gibson (Passions of the Christ), Peter Horton (Eight is Enough), Tom Hanks (film star) and Alexandra Paul (Baywatch). Some of the stars owned the GM EV1, some owned the Toyota RAV4, electric. One hundred years ago, there were more electric cars on the road than there were gas-powered cars. How did the nation get so interested in petroleum power that they would become dependent on foreign sources of the stuff to keep their machines on the move?

Not only does Paine use a generous serving of star power, but also a generous serving of executive and corporate power, too. The head of the California Air Resources Board, Alan Lloyd, Ph.D. (1999-2004) discusses why he capitulated with the automotive industry at a time they were mandated by California law to lower emissions in their vehicles. The Energy Advisor for former President Jimmy Carter discussed his view of the current problems and how President Carter worked with a viable energy plan, which was later abandoned, the solar panels were ripped off the White House, and the Reagan era began.

Where Did All the Electric Cars Go?

Edward Murphy, Ph.D., head of the American Petroleum Institute (API) discusses his perspective on the change away from electric cars. There is a common refrain, even from the GM executive, that there was not enough consumer interest to keep the car on the road and in production. Yet the avid owners of the car tried in vain to blockade the removal of the remaining cars from the GM lot, some even getting arrested in the protest. That does not really square with a lack of interest. And there were long waiting lists for the car. It evidently wasn’t these consumers that killed the car.


How about the Oil and Gas Industry? The Goverment? The Auto Industry? Lack of a good battery? Iris and Stanford Ovshinsky, named Heroes of Chemistry, 2000, had developed a viable battery that would not need recharging for 250 miles! Yet that battery was never used. The average person drives only 29 miles per day. Why was there no momentum to save us from pollution, dependence on foreign oil, expensive maintenance? Paine’s movie is thought provoking and well-done. Watch it to learn more about the current problems with oil, air quality, and national defense.

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