Who Killed the Electric Car?

In 1990, car-exhaust fumes had caused an extreme pollution crisis in California, leading to a dramatic public-health scare. As a result, the Zero Emissions Mandate was initiated, stating that by 1998, 2 percent of new cars sold in the Golden State must be emission-free, and by 2003, 10 percent of them must be. In 1996, General Motors launched the EV1, a landmark in transportation technology. This modern invention required no gas, no mufflers and no oil; it was virtually maintenance-free and certainly pollution-free. However, car companies revolted on this state mandate, sued California and won. General Motors suddenly halted production of their EV1—and even confiscated the ones already sold. Charge stations across the state began collecting cobwebs, and the fanfare disappeared—but why? Did customers lose interest? Did large oil companies send a deafening blow because of diminishing oil profits? Writer/Director Chris Paine’s intelligent and emotionally gripping documentary offers eye-opening insights into these questions.

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