Who Killed the Electric Car? is a 2006 American documentary film directed by Chris Paine that looks at the development, limited marketing, and eventual demise of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, notably the GM EV1.
What happened to GM’s electric vehicle?
The EV1 was first accessible on a restricted lease-only basis to residents of Los Angeles, California, as well as Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. EV1 lessees were formally participants in GM’s Advanced Technology Vehicles group’s “real-world engineering evaluation” and market study into the viability of producing and marketing a commuter electric vehicle in select U.S. markets. The cars were not for sale, and they could only be serviced at specific Saturn dealerships. Within a year of the EV1’s debut, leasing programs in San Francisco and Sacramento, California, as well as a limited program in Georgia, were introduced.
Despite excellent customer response to the EV1, GM determined that electric cars constituted an unproductive sector of the automobile market, and crushed the majority of the cars, despite protests from customers. Furthermore, a group of major manufacturers sued CARB, which resulted in a relaxation of the ZEV requirement, allowing the businesses to produce super-low-emissions vehicles, natural gas vehicles, and hybrid cars instead of pure electrics. In 2002, the EV1 initiative was terminated, and all cars on the road were returned to the firm under the conditions of the lease. Lessees were not given the option to buy their cars from GM, citing parts, service, and liability requirements as justifications. The majority of the EV1s returned were crushed, with about 40 being sent to museums and educational institutions having their electric powertrains turned off, with the understanding that they would not be reactivated and driven on the road. The Smithsonian Institution received the only intact EV1. GM is also said to have given models to research organizations, with EV1s being discovered in the wild near universities, typically in poor condition.
The EV1’s demise has sparked debate, with electric car enthusiasts, environmental groups, and former EV1 lessees accusing GM of deliberately sabotaging its electric car program in order to avoid potential losses in spare parts sales (forced by government regulations), as well as accusing the oil industry of conspiring to keep electric cars off the road. EV1 director Francis Ford Coppola hid his EV1 from General Motors during the discontinuation period and was eventually able to keep his EV1. Because GM took the cars back when the leases expired, the bulk of EV1s were destroyed, an intact and functional EV1 is one of the rarest cars from the 1990s.
What went wrong with the electric car?
The first electric car was created in the late 1890s, and until the 1920s, electric vehicles were rather popular. So, what went wrong? Lund University’s new research published in Nature reveals that early electric infrastructure, or a lack thereof, prevented electric automobiles from succeeding in the twentieth century.
When people discuss early electric cars, they frequently criticize them for their slow speed, poor performance, and exorbitant price. Josef Taalbi and Hana Nielsen of Lund University discovered that these accusations aren’t totally accurate after reviewing a database of over 36,000 American-made cars.
“Electric cars were cheaper to drive in the 1920s, according to our estimates, due to inexpensive electricity.” They were more expensive to buy than combustion engine vehicles, but they didn’t require as much maintenance and didn’t require as much gasoline.
Is it possible for GM to defeat Tesla?
Tesla’s market share is dwindling after years of dominating EV sales in the United States. Tesla’s domestic market share of electric vehicles is expected to shrink from 79 percent last year to 56 percent in 2021, according to IHS Markit. As larger automakers like GM release an inflow of new vehicles, IHS estimates that percentage will continue to decline, reaching 20% in 2025.
LMC Automotive predicts that by the middle of the decade, General Motors will have surpassed Tesla as the country’s leading EV seller.
As the business develops new models, GM had predicted that EV revenue will rise from around $10 billion in 2023 to around $90 billion yearly by 2030.
Why did GM sabotage the electric vehicle?
The film illustrates how, as its intentions toward the automobile and California legislation evolved, car manufacturers engaged in both positive and negative marketing of the electric car, using GM as its primary example. GM used to run Super Bowl commercials for the EV1 that were created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Later, it aired “award-winning” doomsday-style advertising featuring the EV1 and conducted customer surveys that stressed disadvantages to electronic vehicle technology that were not present in the EV1. (As a side point, CARB officials were quoted as saying that they reduced their zero-emission vehicle limits in part because they believed studies stating there was little demand for the EV1s were accurate.) GM was also accused of sabotaging its own product program, failing to create enough cars to fulfill demand, and refusing to sell automobiles directly (they only leased them).
The film also details the history of automakers’ efforts to eliminate competing technology, such as their destruction of public transportation networks in the United States in the early twentieth century (through front firms). In addition to EV1, the video featured the cancellation of the Toyota RAV4 EV and Honda EV Plus by their respective automobile manufactures. Honda EV Plus’s smashing only garnered attention until it appeared by chance on an episode of PBS’s California’s Gold with Huell Howser.
The video points out that GM destroyed the EV1 to focus on more immediately profitable ventures such as its Hummer and truck brands, rather than preparing for future problems, in an interview with retired GM board member, scientist, and former Caltech president Tom Everhart. In a brief appearance, Ralph Nader points out that when it comes to major advancements, such as seat belts, airbags, catalytic converters, mileage regulations, or, by implication, hybrid/electric automobiles, automakers usually only respond to government regulation. According to the video, Toyota funded the development of the Toyota Prius hybrid in part as a response to Bill Clinton’s Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles and other US government pressure that was eventually withdrawn.
Though GM cited cost as a disincentive to continuing with the EV1, the film interviewed critics who said that, due to economies of scale, the cost of batteries and electric vehicles would have been greatly reduced if mass production had begun. There’s also talk about electric cars affecting dealer profitability because they require so little maintenanceno tuneups, no oil changes, and fewer brake repairs due to regenerative braking.
Why did the first electric cars vanish?
Anyway, by the 1930s, electric automobiles had all but vanished due to bizarre marketing stigmatization, low crude oil prices, the far more economical Model T, and the creation of the highway system.
Who put an end to the solar car?
A student was killed while driving a solar car, according to 847. “On Thursday, tragedy struck the University of Toronto’s Blue Sky Solar Racing Team when Andrew Frow, a 21-year-old student, was killed in an automobile accident,” writes Lev13than. Frow appears to have lost control of the low-riding experimental vehicle and was hit head-on by a minivan.
How many more GM EV1s are there?
The romantic stories of lost causes, undeserved failures, magnificent ideas unheeded, righteous expectations dashed, prophets before their time, and heroes overwhelmed abound in the relatively small history of the vehicle. The landscape of the chrome-bright past is littered with innovative also-rans, killed by forces too powerful or a market too fickle. A spinout on the boulevard of broken axles is the 1948 Tucker, a rather advanced car. The Cord, with its pop-out safety windshield, the elegant Raymond Loewy-designed Studebaker Starliner, and the sporty 1950s Nash-Healy were all popular failures. Despite the fact that they all heralded new routes and influenced the future, they all fell short.
The loss of such cars has grieved admirers, but a vehicle’s death has rarely resulted in a formal funeral. On July 24, 2003, General Motors’ sleek, futuristic, battery-powered, emissions-free EV1 received just such a send-off at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.
A line of EV1s rolled past a white hearse circling the cemetery, their loyal drivers taking a literal last trip in the cars they had rented from GM, to the sounds of a bagpiper. Many extinct cars are still prized by collectors; in rust-free California, Edsels, Corvairs, and Studebaker Avantis, for example, ply the highways. However, ardent admirers will never again drive the EV1, an innovatively constructed attempt to jump-start GM’s 21st century. Despite the fact that 1,100 of the vehicles were built and rented to drivers in California and Arizona since 1996, almost all of them were destroyed as the leases expired. This was a catastrophe for many of the lessees. In an open letter to GM CEO Rick Wagoner, one business owner stated, “…the EV1 offers a path to national redemption, not just a car.
Paul MacCready, CEO of AeroVironment, who also designed the first human-powered aircraft to cross the English Channel, is largely responsible for the production car’s sleek appearance and superb aerodynamics. The extreme aerodynamics had to work in a street-ready automobile, and it was up to GM chief designer Dennis Little and lead designer Mark Kaski to make it happen. “According to Bill Withuhn, a curator at the National Museum of American History, American manufacturers are chastised for their lack of innovation (NMAH). ” However, GM was considerably ahead of the game with the EV1, and even though production was limited, the EV1 taught GM a lot.
Many circumstances had a role in the failure of a car that wasn’t technically defective. The range of the initial iteration was just about 100 miles before the automobiles needed to be recharged. (Battery life was improved slightly in two subsequent generations.) “According to Withuhn, many people misunderstood the EV1 as a commuting car rather than a long-distance car from California to New York. However, many drivers go more than 100 miles each day, and while the EV1’s range was adequate for suburban driving, it was insufficient for families with children as a two-seater. Even some fans of the car’s design criticized the way it drove. “The car was fast, but the batteries made it heavy, and with a rear axle smaller than the front, the handling felt weird,” explains R J Muna, a photographer who shot several of the EV1’s advertising photos. The emergence of gas-electric hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, capable of recharging their batteries while cruising down the highway, was perhaps the most significant blow to the all-electric automobile.
According to Jill Banaszynski, manager of the EV1 donation program, just 40 EV1s were saved to be gifted to museums and institutions or held by GM for research. The sole totally intact EV1 is now part of the NMAH collection, along with its (now inert) lead acid battery. “According to Withuhn, “all of the vehicles in the museum must be entire models.” “We are free to remove parts, but we must understand that if we wanted to operate an automobile or a steam engine, we would be unable to do it. It’s a matter of being genuine.
This stipulation initially presented a dilemma for GM, which had opted to recall the vehicles since only a small number of technicians were trained to safely work on the strong batteries. However, after a series of talks, the museum received its own complete specimen of an exemplary machine in March 2005.
What is the most serious issue with electric vehicles?
This one is self-evident: EVs are now more expensive than ICE vehicles for a variety of reasons (auto companies wanting to recuperate R&D expenses, absence of meaningful government subsidies to boost uptake, expensive battery packs), which is a barrier for many buyers.
Price parity between EVs and ICE vehicles is predicted to emerge over the next five years, making EVs more accessible, thanks to lower battery pack costs and a rise in the number of EV models on the market.
Why are gas vehicles preferable to electric vehicles?
Gas automobiles are less expensive than electric cars in terms of gasoline. Electricity is usually more expensive than gasoline, so it will cost you more per mile, making gas-powered cars a better long-term investment.