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Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by Vern Padgett, Aug 19, 2006.

  1. Vern Padgett

    Vern Padgett Member

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    Saw the film last week.  Nice work by Chris Paine.  I'm sure he is right in assigning guilt to each of his list of suspects-- U.S. automakers, oil companies, the U.S. executive branch of government, California's Air Resource Board, the American car driver, and whoever else was on his list. 

    But my big problem with the film is that it doesn't explain why foreign-made electric vehicles have not sold well here, or, why electric vehicles have not sold well in other countries.  Take Norway, or Japan.  Neither has a government led by oil company people.  Why aren't their people driving electrics?

    I'd like to see the thesis of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" applied to the failure of the electric car to sell in those countries. If we try it, most of the suspects drop off the list.
     
  2. danny

    danny Administrator

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    re: Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    those are some really good points i never thought about when I saw the film as well.
    I think the countries with the most important auto industries have powerful oil companies
    and car companies that live off the inter. comb. engine.
     
  3. Iamtherealwoody

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    re: Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    That movie should not be showing in theaters. Think about it, you have to pay to see it. It should be on TV getting national coverage. But then again, "some people" dont want people to know this stuff. Screw them. Its amazing what people will do for money.
     
  4. Vern Padgett

    Vern Padgett Member

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    re: Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    Did Chris Paine sign up for one of the first 100 Teslas?  How about those two people who took out $100k from their retirement account to put in for a Signature Tesla.  Maybe I should have as well. 
     
  5. bobw

    bobw Tesla Reader

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    re: Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    The Tesla Roadster with all the trimmings costs $100,000.00. The manufacturing cost must be some large fraction of that.

    The EV1 manufacturing cost would have been similar. Yes, the EV1 had lead-acid batteries at first, but even then the volumes were too low for many economies of scale. Remember that the EV1 had unique parts throughout.

    Then consider that as a 2-seater with a 75 mile range an EV1 was at best a really cool third car. How many people can afford $400.00/month for a third car? That would have limited the market. The EV1 was like an electric 'Vette. No wonder the lessors loved it. It was a lot more limited than a Corvette, though. It cost like a Ferrari to build.

    I bet that GM lost money on each and every one. They had already spent $1Bn developing it. Setting up to produce it in quantity would not have been worth the investment. That would be a more convincing reason why GM stopped making them.

    Chris Paine made a docudrama, not a documentary. If he had laid out all the facts he wouldn't have been able to cast GM as the villain. He would have had to work harder to make it interesting.

    And maybe Alexandra Paul wouldn't have gotten as much screen time, which would have been a pity.
     
  6. DDB

    DDB Member

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    re: Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    Good point about the failure of the EV in foreign countries...but I suppose big oil is tied to big auto just as they are here. Or maybe the technology (ie batteries) just wern't advanced enough to be practical. We keep hearing that they're hardly cost effective even today.

    Chris Payne is out to generate profit on that movie--not educate the public. It'd be nice if it was showing every night on a different national network, but it is about the dollars.
     
  7. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    re: Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    I've watched the movie several times since I got it on DVD, and I've thought a fair bit about what it all means. I have to end up putting most of the blame on California and CARB -- not for relaxing the zero-emissions mandate, but rather for creating it in the first place.

    Their legislation pushed the electric car into existence at the wrong time. It was a time when gasoline prices were low, when global warming was not yet in the public discussion, and we weren't facing the kind of problems we now have in the Middle East and with Venezuela. The public wasn't ready for it, the car industry wasn't ready for it, and battery technology wasn't quite there yet either. (It's just barely there now.)

    Because they pushed the electric car into existence at a time when the stars were not yet aligned for it, CARB effectively set it up for failure. That failure discredited the whole idea of the electric car so badly that a lot of people are still very wary and skeptical even now, when it's starting to make a lot of sense. Their heavy-handed regulation stirred up huge resentment in the auto industry instead of getting them on board with the program. It should stand as a warning about the dangers of trying to legislate technological progress.
     
  8. DDB

    DDB Member

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    re: Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    We still haven't placed much blame on the consumer. I should have taken the pledge that I won't buy new until it is electric long before 2005. Our pocketbooks drive the decisions of corporate America, and the consumer hasn't been aggressive enough in demands. Now we're getting louder.
     
  9. Vern Padgett

    Vern Padgett Member

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    re: Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    Tony Belding wrote:  "I've watched the movie several times since I got it on DVD, and I've thought a fair bit about what it all means.  I have to end up putting most of the blame on California and CARB ..."   

    Tony what is your analysis of the current California political administration with respect to electric cars?  I think we still have CARB ... I keep searching the daily news for the word that Governor Schwarzenegger has 1) placed an order for a Tesla or 2) called for a millionTeslas on the road by 2010. 

    Tony also wrote:   "Their legislation pushed the electric car into existence at the wrong time.  It was a time when gasoline prices were low, when global warming was not yet in the public discussion, and we weren't facing the kind of problems we now have in the Middle East and with Venezuela.  The public wasn't ready for it, the car industry wasn't ready for it, and battery technology wasn't quite there yet either.  (It's just barely there now.)"   

    You make good points.  But Jay Leno has an operational Baker Electric, with a Nickel-Iron battery, the original.  If Baker could sell electrics in the 1920s, weren't we ready for them also in the 80s or 90s? 

    If more of us would have voted for that gas tax in 1978, espoused by third-party candidate John Anderson, we might have had electric cars on the street everywhere already.  I voted for him. 

    DDB wrote:  "We still haven't placed much blame on the consumer.  I should have taken the pledge that I won't buy new until it is electric long before 2005.  Our pocketbooks drive the decisions of corporate America, and the consumer hasn't been aggressive enough in demands.  Now we're getting louder." 

    You and I are on the same page on this one.   It is the fault of the consumer.  But my neighbors on both sides of me appear to measure their success by how many giant trucks and SUV Land Crusher V8's they can park in front of my house (as their own driveways are full).  How can we bring them on board?  Hint:  Pray for higher priced gasoline. 

    Vern
     
  10. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    re: Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

    CARB still exists. Contrary to the impression some people got from the movie, the Zero Emissions Mandate still exists -- but in a weaker form that can be met using low-emission vehicles, not necessary true zero-emission vehicles. Really clean hybrids and gasoline-powered cars can meet it. In the aftermath of the movie there was some talk about tightening the rules up again, but I don't know how serious that is.

    If you believe CARB exists to clean up California's smog problem, then the watered down mandate will probably be just as effective, and at much lower cost. If you believe CARB should get into regulating greenhouse emissions or fuel economy, then the strict zero emissions mandate might make sense -- but it would put California in conflict with the Federal Government again.

    I got an email newsletter from Tesla Motors this morning which pointed out something I didn't know. Electric cars can still get a sticker for the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in California. They recently stopped issuing the yellow stickers to hybrid cars, but white stickers for pure electric vehicles are still available. Several other states have similar programs.

    They couldn't sell many. After WW1 the gasoline-powered cars had become completely dominant, and electrics were rapidly fading away.

    In a country where infrastructure to support gasoline cars is everywhere, and gasoline cars are mass-produced in huge volumes, everyone is familiar with them, and gasoline is inexpensive, there's very little incentive for someone to buy (or lease) an electric car. To make inroads, the electric car needs to either offer something gasoline cars can't provide (like massive torque starting at 0 RPM!), or it has to be pushed forward by external problems (like smog, global warming, rising gas prices). The GM EV1 was fairly weak on the first score, and the time period when it was offered was fairly weak on the second score.

    That's too far back for me. I was rooting for Paul Tsongas in 1992, though. He never made it through the Democratic primaries, and we ended up with the eight-year-long nightmare of Bill Clinton instead. :'(

    I have mixed feelings about this. I've always thought the SUV craze was silly. But you know, people tend to make buying decisions based on issues that are tangible and pressing to them. They don't look at theoretical problems years or decades into the future. You might argue that they should. . . But a lot of times the problems that intellectuals and pundits foresee in the future turn out to be bogus. The seemingly short-sighted decisions made by consumers probably work out just as well on the average. And in a free market, they can respond very quickly when a problem does become tangible and pressing.

    I'll give you an example of what I mean. . . In the 1970s energy crunch, the French government saw the writing on the wall. Their scientists and analysts told them the world was going to run out of fossil fuels, and they took action to get ahead of the problem. They started building large numbers of nuclear power plants, and they got nuclear power supplying some large percentage (I forget if it was 60% or 70%) of France's energy. Little did they imagine they were just entering a 30-year stretch of cheap fossil fuels. Now that natural gas supplies are starting to get tight, you'd think they are finally vindicated -- but those nuclear plants are aging, the majority of their service life is behind them now. It was just bad timing.

    I put the current Global Warming hysteria into a similar category. In 40 years we'll probably know whether it was a real problem.

    So. . . I blame the consumers a little for SUV madness, but not a lot. Because when crunch time comes, I expect them to rally and save us. :)
     
  11. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Who Killed the Electric Car & Big Ideas

    I just rewatched "Who Killed the Electric Car" again tonight. (This is the 2nd time I have seen it, previously I watched it in the theater before).

    It really is a great movie.
    Near the end there is the short preview of the Tesla Roadster that was the first sight of it for many.
    Now that I know of some of the Tesla players and the history, I can see it was JB driving the original mule vehicle next to some wind power generators. Probably near Altamont Pass not far from "Tesla Road" in Livermore.
    The movie includes interviews with people who now work at Tesla such as Wally Rippel and Alec Brooks

    After finishing up "Who Killed the Electric Car", I put on the Sundance/UHD show "Big Ideas for a Small Planet: Drive".
    It was a good followup, including many of the same people and some nice high definition interviews with Martin & Elon, and shots of the roadster driving around. I particularly like the part where Phil Luk says to Chris Paine: "I am authorized to let you drive the car back if you like". Chris responds, "Yeah, duh!"
     
  12. graham

    graham Active Member

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    For those of you in the Bay Area who are interested:

    Who Killed the Electric Car is going to air at the San Mateo main Library on Monday Feb 23 with a Q&A following with Chris Paine.

    San Mateo, CA - Official Website

     
  13. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    Hmmm... I might go to that.
     
  14. DaveD

    DaveD EVs Kick Gas!

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    It might be more interesting to show up to it in a Roadster. Conveniently located right off of El Camino Real. How many Roadster owners (or those soon to be) will show up? I'm sure Chris would be thrilled if his Roadster had some company.
     
  15. DisneylandIsHome

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    He probably will show up in his "gas hog" Prius (his words) which he uses when he has to travel a distance such as to the Bay Area. But a fleet of Teslas would be wonderful even if he doesn't arrive in his roadster.
     
  16. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    A couple shots of Chris Paine from tonight:

    3306216832_39e08c9e98.jpg
    3306216836_c59c7b2b59.jpg
     
  17. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    What did he show up in? :smile:
     
  18. Kevin Harney

    Kevin Harney Active Member

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    A Shirt Jacket and jeans !!! LOL heheheheh
     
  19. graham

    graham Active Member

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    We did not see. Doug, TEG and I showed up to the viewing (perhaps someone else from the forum was also there who I did not see??). The parking was in an underground parking garage under the library - and did not really lend itself to hanging out to watch people arrive.

    There were a couple of RAV4 EVs and a Hymotion plug-in Prius there. TEG probably drove his Ranger EV, but I did not see it.

    I assume if Chris drove up from LA, he drove his Prius. If he flew, maybe a rental car or maybe he carpooled. He mentioned having family in the audience so he might have hitched a ride with one of them.
     
  20. Tin-Chicken

    Tin-Chicken Member

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    Who was that in the passenger seat ...

    Funny story.

    Chris Paine was about to release his movie "Who killed the electric car" and he wanted some footage of the Tesla Roadster to run just before the credits.

    After much engineering angst - cars were in short supply, we only had 2 - the best looking Roadster was scheduled for a one day shoot. They were going to head to the hills to get wind turbines in the background.

    Jessica, our feisty Marketing VP, was excited about the shoot and was looking for someone to sit in the passenger seat alongside JB. She dropped by my desk. This is what transpired ...


    J: I have a favor to ask.

    Me: Yes.

    J: We need a passenger to sit alongside JB in the roadster for the shoot.

    Me: <smiles>

    J: We need someone small ...

    Me: <Mmmm. I am average height, but I guess I could be small...>

    J: Someone with the right look.

    Me: And what would that be? <bigger smile>

    J: Oh, pretty, happy, friendly.

    Me: <Mmmm. Nobody has ever used all those words when describing me, but, hey, I'll take it!>

    J: So, I was wondering ...

    Me: <O. M. G. She wants me in the movie!!!!>

    J: The favor...

    Me: <WOOO HOO! My mum will be so proud>

    J: It is a bit of a cheek and I don't really know how to ask ...

    Me: Well. <starts blushing> I, er, well ...

    J: Would you mind if I asked <pretty, happy, friendly> in your team? She would be out of the office for the entire day. Is that OK?

    Me: <crestfallen>

    Me: <crushed>

    Me: <no Oscar then>

    Me: <dreams, vanished>

    Me: That would be fine. She is perfect. <smiles bravely>


    And she was. It could have been me. Well, technically :rolleyes:

    Lisa.
     

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