Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Automakers, Bailouts & The Electric Car

The fate of the "Big 3" American automakers has been in the news alot lately. So far, its gone pretty much like this. Inept CEOs arrive in DC to beg for a bailout. Politicians pander to score points by berating their traveling methods. The right wing seizes on the moment to explicably blame unions for the mess, and float inaccurate claims about the pay of workers. Millions of jobs directly and indirectly related to the industry lay in the balance. And the entire farce turns into a dog-and-pony show in which the public is treated to the bizarre scene of corporate executives driving their own low-selling products to another begging session. The markets rally and fall as everything from Madison Avenue's ad revenues to automotive parts suppliers look on anxiously.

In what has become the Democrats ritualistic captiulation to even a lameduck Bush White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently reached an agreement on about $15 billion in bailout loans for the beleaguered auto industry--with the caveat, insisted by Bush, that the money come from funds previously allocated for--wait for it--greener cars.

Oh will the irony never cease. Because one of the Big 3 automakers now set to gain monies from that fund at one time produced a very green car---and also helped kill it. Ever heard of the Electric Car?

The 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? explores the creation, limited commercialization, and eventual demise (by self-destruction) of a battery operated electric vehicle known as the EV1. Produced by General Motors, the EV1 was was allowed to be leased by a few individuals in Southern California--many of them actors, like Tom Hanks, who went on David Letterman to sing its praises.

However, its successful roll-out and the threat it posed for a global oil dependent economy, sealed its fate. Like something out of a left-leaning Matt Damon-George Clooney thriller, an array of forces ranging from major auto manufacturers to the oil industry--helped along by powerful figures inlcuding Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney and others--came together to make certain that the EV1 would never make it into the mainstream public.

Before the car could even be marketed, General Motors suddenly and inexplicably recalled them, claiming they had no demand. Some of those leasing the cars offered to pay for them, but GM was adamant--demanding the return of their vehicles. Protests erupted with little media coverage, as some attempted to hold onto their EV1s. But eventually GM was successful. And the literally "confiscated" electric cars were not only retrieved but eventually crushed and destroyed. In a final insult, Exxon Mobil was allowed to buy the patent for the battery technology--assuring this threat would be nullified for the near future. The electric car disappeared from the roads of Southern California, and--until the 2006 documentary--remained unknown to most Americans.

Now here we are on the cusp of 2009. With a global recession, high gas prices, desperate automakers and a promise by a president-elect to move the US from oil dependency, the electric car seems as relevant as ever. One of the conditions of the recently proposed automaker bailout, should be that the Big 3 start looking to produce cars that are energy efficient, cheaper for buyers and less harmful to the environment. And someone in Congress should demand them--General Motors in particular--to come clean about who killed the electric car.

Link to film:

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Trailer for "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

Tom Hanks on David Letterman discussing the EV1.

1 comment:


9 Responses to “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

1. Policy Talks@Google: Ralph Nader (video) « Dandelion Salad Says:
May 15, 2008 at 4:59 am

[...] Who Killed the Electric Car? [...]
May 15, 2008 at 2:37 pm

the energy to produce electricity to charge the electric car is what killed it! thus, until a clean abundant fuel to make cheap electricity is truly found will this reality come to fruition- my name is solomon sami azar- i have done so with my experiments - time will tell-

tell someone to prove me wrong- but it would be nicer if you prove me right
3. dandelionsalad Says:
May 15, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Hi Solomon, good point. Good luck with your experiments, too.
4. Guva Dafe Says:
May 17, 2008 at 11:43 pm

There is plenty of electricity to recharge electric car batteries… IF the bulk of the charging is done at night. This greatly benefits the power company as indicated by their support of EVs. There is abundant energy available IF we want to use it. Wind, Solar, Tidal all of which are available… it’s just they have the inconvenient knack of not being there when you want them. (night, calm weather etc.). So the solution is to develop methods of storing energy for use at these times. Not saying this is cheap but it COULD be done today. Look at the amount of solar installations taking place in Europe!!!!!
June 14, 2008 at 6:35 am

Today on june 9th 2008-I was deleted by wecansolveit.org-

the organization looking for alternative energy for america has deleted me- the man who solved the energy crisis-

why- because i say I am a messenger of god

you want your cake and eat it too- you want life exactly the way you want it and not told by another

you dont pick your messengers- they are chosen-

i had enough- i have now endured 13 months on this net being deleted by every arrogant organization run by humans and just regular folk like you who have always ignored my messages since my time upon the net-

well i am done with your stupidity-

let your oil prices go up- let your food prices go up- watch your economies crumble- see your jobs lost- get rid of all your pet animals as you cannot feed your family and pet dog as so many are giving them to the pound-

I have come openly with a solution 13 months ago only to be ignored-

now a gluttonous world playing on the internet shall all learn how primitive man is and must be civil to one another- instead of shunning someone bringing forth a solution- in the months to follow- you will learn there is no alternative fuel- panic mode will set in very soon-

when you understand clearly how important energy is- i guess your arragance will stop and just implement my scientific deeds - as for my messenger duties- it will make sense in time- all is well- but it will only get better after your destruction- i am sorry i have to say this- but it is I who has now watched you completely ignore and ridicule a man of god- as always you will learn the hard way-

time will tell

solomon azar
6. dandelionsalad Says:
June 14, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Solomon, I’m not following you at all. ???

Who are you directing this to?

Who is the “you” that you keep referring to?


i predict i will continue to put up with ignorant remarks until the year 2012-the year you figure out global peace and unification may be sustained and achieved via a clean abundant source of energy for all nations- that will be my system understood and implemented-i am the messiah