Who Killed the Electric Car



We watched Who Killed the Electric Car last night on the Tivo.  I am surprised that I have not watched before, but I guess I figured it would just be a rant.  Surprisingly, I felt they had a very balanced message, rightfully placing the blame on pretty much everyone.


  • Consumers – wanting huge SUV’s instead of smaller efficient vehicles
  • Car Companies – Too addicted to ICE (Internal Combustion Engine)
  • Gas Companies – wanting to preserve current profits $$$
  • Government – Not mandating change
  • CARB – Switching from a mandate for electric to hydrogen at the last minute

The funny part is that if Toyota, GM, and Ford all had continued production of their EV’s, they would be selling like hot cakes today.  Toyota had a very usable RAV EV, GM had the EV1, and Ford had the Th!nk, which they have since sold to a European firm.  All of these cars were in production, and could be sold today.  And, with the advances in battery technology (imagine a EV1 with LiON batteries!), they would be even better, and cheaper.

Let’s hope the car companies can get their EV’s back into production, and start getting practical PHEV’s into production.

14 thoughts on “Who Killed the Electric Car

  1. gsmith Post author

    Hopefully that quest for profits will lead the car companies to take another look at electric cars and PHEV’s and speed development. Obviously with gas at $4 a gallon, the demand is now out there for some real alternatives. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Taylor

    I like your thoughts on PHEV’s. Having a hybrid that you can plug in and your first 40 miles of the day are gas free is pretty exciting. I think most people are scared of an all electric car because they fear getting stranded. With a PHEV, once the battery runs out, you still have your ICE to get you home.

  3. kendra

    I had a friend in California who had an EV-1. He loved it, in fact he did not want to give it back at the end of the lease. It was fun zooming around in it, I felt like Jane Jetson.

  4. Jeff

    the problem is not that government is not mandating change, it is that government is subsidizing oil companies. It is not really the oil companies’ fault, they are pretty much doing what any business would do – make profit the easiest way possible. If government were to no longer subsidize oil, the market would take its natural route and force innovation when oil is no longer economically viable. The other side of that coin is that government needs to lift regulation where necessary in order to let the market work. The solution is not more government intervention.
    Obviously you can tell I am an advocate of free market economics. =)

  5. gsmith Post author

    Jeff, thanks for commenting. I agree with you 100%. However, I think the government providing encouragements, either through tax credits or tougher regulations such as CAFE requirements can help steer us in the right direction. In most cases, take ethanol, subsides are often ineffective and cause unwanted side effects (rising food prices).

  6. malcolm32

    I don’t think that the government actually subsidizes the oil companies that much. People like to throw that out as a red herring. The amount is around 15-20 billion, which seems like a lot, but is a drop in the bucket in how much the oil companies actually make. And most of those subsidize are low interest loans for new construction.

  7. Tony Goggin

    Great summation of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” I saw it last summer at a film festival and you nailed the synopsis perfectly.

    Maybe it’s hard to directly control what government does or doesn’t do with our tax dollars and the oil companies, but as consumers, we do have direct control of the most important element – the demand. Granted, it’s hard to get any two people to agree on anything, let alone millions of people. However, we can all at least collectively reject inefficient vehicles.

    While some of the newer efforts like the “Tesla” and the “Kurrent” aren’t going to have the market penetration potential like the “EV-1” and “Th!nk” would have had, at least they are steps in the right direction. Maybe GM, Ford, and others will take notice. I like your thoughts on PHEV as well – I know I’d seriously consider buying one.

    Tony Goggins last blog post..Improve Fuel Economy – How Choosing The Right Tires Make A Huge Difference

  8. gsmith Post author

    Thanks for the comment Tony. I sure hope the US car companies can get some PHEV’s on the market soon. If not, I know Toyota and Honda will, decreasing the US companies market share even further. If they cannot change quickly, they may find themselves out of business…

  9. green warrior

    You stupid people dont give fuck about trying to save the planet, your all bothered that gas is now $4 a gallon, you have about the cheapest gas in the world, in the uk it costs £1 a litre so for all you rednecks that don’t know what that works out as over $7 a gallon. perhaps if you used your own oil instead of stockpiling it and going to war with everybody to steal theres it would be a bit cheaper for you. let be real here, if gas was cheaper you wouldn’t give a fuck about the planet and you would be quite happy driving around in big gas guzzling v8’s.

  10. Georgi Anastasov

    I am not from the USA but I am very interested in the Technology of the electric car. I like this car very much and would hope this car finally is made commercially. I someone wants to produce this car outside of USA please contact me as I am interested.

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