As Congress considers the economic bail out of the Detroit auto industry, this movie has more relevance today than it did at its 2006 release date. One of the strongest points against the bail out, especially for General Motors, is that they dropped the ball on developing energy efficient clean running vehicles. They say that there wasn’t a market at the time they decommissioned the EV1 model, but as the mock funeral portrayed, the car was not just put on the back burner, but was brutally murdered. I felt as I watched the rounding up of every vehicle, sometimes with the leaseholder helplessly standing by, that this was more than a change of product line. That this was the intentional annihilation of an alternative energy vehicle by the oil and car companies who were afraid that the idea was catching on with the public.
The movie begins with bright, energetic, just out of college GM employees, working for very little money to bring this exciting new line of electric cars to market. You could see in their eyes that each one out of production was one of their children. The excitement continues throughout the film, so much so, that you find yourself saying, “I want one of those”. Then comes the almost Hitler-like rounding up of the “kids” and sending them off to barb wire compounds and ultimately crushed. Of course, cars are not people, and ironically it was Hitler that had the Volkswagen developed as the “people’s car” when he was trying to jump-start the German economy. So, for some reason the analogy seems to fit as we look at what’s happening today both to the car companies and the economy.
The delightful part of the film is the optimistic attitude that this is not the end of the story. That the young employees of General Motors are still out there, maybe not at work in Detroit, but still at work spreading the idea that we can have it all. We can bring back to life an energy efficient, fast, beautiful car at an affordable price and help to prevent one more death, which is the death of our planet. Who knows? Maybe it will even be made in Detroit after all.
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2006
A film by Chris Paine