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Thread: Who Killed The Electric Car?

  1. #1
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    Who Killed The Electric Car?

    I just watched this excellent documentary called Who Killed The Electric Car.

    It showed how GM led the world in electric vehicle technology with the EV1, spurned by a California Mandate that by 2003 a certain percent of all cars sold in CA must be emmsions free. Well, once a round of lawsuits pressured California lawmakers into repealing the mandate, GM recalled all the electric cars and crushed them. So did Ford (Think & Ranger EV), Honda, and Toyota (Rav 4-EV).

    The film is a testimony to how controlling the oil companies and automotive industries are compared to the consumer. David and Goliath so to speak.

    I recommend watching this film. It even includes interviews with Phyllis Diller, Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Ralph Nader and more.

  2. #2
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    Glad to hear there is a movie about this finally. I had heard about GM's efforts in this about 15 years ago. I will check it out.
    I am the winner in any event.

  3. #3
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    Steve,
    Troll through this older thread: http://www.thefixx.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=4128

    Much on this subject, along with a mention at that time about the flick.

    Also, I have shopped seriously for an electric car before, and this is the exact one I considered: http://www.myersmotors.com/
    I didn't buy it because its range wasn't good enough to be my primary work vehicle (based on my current workplace arrangement). The Myers car is highway capable (70 mph), but only has a range of approximately 40 miles.

    The 3 things needed for an electric car to be successful (IMO)-
    1. Range roughly equivalent to a normal tank of gas (~200-250 miles). This is the most difficult to accomplish with current battery tech without adding in almost a ton of batteries.
    2. Highway speed performance (~70 mph, which the Myers car has)
    3. Rapid charge time (<2 hours).

    Given these 3, many people would find the driving experience to be equivalent to a gas car and would be more prone to "convert". Battery technology is the shortcoming at the moment, but I would guess this will rapidly change as hybrid development continues. In addition, electric vehicle costs are much different than gas, as you must pay for entire battery change-outs every 2-4 years, based on current tech. This change-out could cost upwards of $4000-$10000 (or more for a truck/SUV). You have to do the math on "cost-per-mile" for the estimated life of the vehicle to see if you really can afford one. Oh, these costs are similar for hybrids, so those 100,000 mile warranties look great now, but wait till that Prius needs a new battery pack, or one of the major electrical components must be changed (with cost on the owner).

    One more thing- the power for Electrics needs to come from somewhere (also discussed in that former thread). However, here's a related post with huge potential- http://www.thefixx.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=4158

    EDIT- Last, I had heard once of Friedman suggesting that the U.S. should have a "go to the Moon" type project to develop technologies to rid ourselves of oil. I think it's about time for this. I would bet a Presidential candidate could win with this as their primary platform issue.

    BM
    I've been lurking...

  4. #4
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    I watched this film a few weeks ago and went, "Ah...THAT'S what all these charging stations around Los Angeles were for!"

    Man, I want one of them little cars. Would have been perfect for my usual driving around town. I suspect--or hope--that the likely future will be in plug-in hybrids. Hobbyists & engineers have been converting the Toyota Prius into such a beast. Get something like 60mpg on the battery then switch to the gas engine for longer trips. I think they said it could average out to 80-100mpg.

    Great documentary, though. Really gets you fired up about the evil forces that ruined such a great project.
    www.keith-moore.net
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  5. #5
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    Beached Male - The film covers the three things you said were necessary for an EV to be successful. 300 mile range is available NOW. Highway speed performance has been available for years (since 1998 at the latest). And an "85% recharge could occur over lunch" (according to the film).

    Guess who bought the battery company that developed rechargable batteries that have 300 mile range? First it was GM - then after CA eliminated the zero emission mandate, GM sold it's controlling shares to Texaco.

    The most compelling inverviews in the film are from the former GM employee who built the EV1 foundation, and another guy (from Europe) who invented the 200-300 mile rechargable battery.

    Thanks for digging up those older links. I had forgot that it was HERE that I saw the Who Killed The Electric Car trailer (thanks to Geoff).

    bdemon - I too have wondered about those charging stations. Now we know.

    And one of the COOLEST lines in the film - wasn't in the film. I think it was in a deleted scene or making of short (all included on the DVD). One of the interviewees says "Imagine NEVER having to go to a gas station again".

    Perhaps too blunt a statement, but true of an EV owner. There are literally trillions of $$$ worth of busisness to be done in the oil industry before it "runs out". Even if a few million people buy electric cars, there's always going to be need for aviation fuel, diesel for trains and trucks. And some people will just never want to give up their muscle car or SUV. So regardless of weahter EVs become popular, the oil industry is still going to thrive and so will the automakers. They are both suffering from profit paranoia.

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by Steve Pariseau


    They are both suffering from profit paranoia.
    Great line.
    I am the winner in any event.

  7. #7
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    Steve,
    What has me sold for the long run on electrics is that the gas station is then your electric outlet in your home (or plugs where you would park). Power is then made in the most efficient way, whether by clean coal, nuclear or renewables, which is then transferred to your normal home outlet. The amount of fuel saved simply by stopping the movement, storage and upkeep of fueling stations alone would be staggering. Also, for diesels- that's where the bio-diesel would be beneficial. I doubt we will see electric Tractor-Trailers, but if all the combustible fuel were only for commercial transport (and farm tractors), I'm estimating we could make enough of it.

    That Myers Motors vehicle I pointed out has appeared in a couple movies- Goldmember (Austin Powers), and AI. Jay Leno owns(ed) one also, not sure if he still does. The Myers car used to be the Corbin Sparrow (another SAD story). Corbin is the Harley Davidson seat/aftermarket parts maker. He used some of his money along with seed investment to form Corbin Auto in California, and from what I read there was someone who forced them into bankruptcy. That whole thing seemed shady at the time, but I'm glad that Myers in Ohio was able to buy up the assets, and Myers has improved on some of the components also.

    You would think that a Bill Gates of autos would come along and make an electric car...

    BM
    I've been lurking...

  8. #8
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    Hey BM
    Check this puppy out...

    four door truck

    It's a little pricey, but it looks pretty cool

  9. #9
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    Steve,
    The battery tech is amazing, and I truly hope that all the tech specs are the real thing. Did you see the Altair website? http://www.altairnano.com/index.html

    Check out the PowerPoint brief by one of their scientists. Looks like a major breakthrough in battery tech, especially the high temp tests. Graphites were a problem, but in one stroke Altair may have solved 3 major problems-
    1. New design doesn't overheat and can operate in high temps (their lithiums aren't graphite based)
    2. Longer life (looks like 3 to 4 times the life of graphites)
    3. Recharge speed (amazing stats, showing 1/2 hour charge potential)

    This could be the breakthrough that elevates the electric car to prominence.

    BM
    I've been lurking...

  10. #10
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    Wow, a 10 minute charge? (with the apporpriate charger).

    I notice this auto is on display at a show this weekend in the LA area. Hm, I might be able to fit that in...

  11. #11
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    Steve,
    Wish I could go...

    http://www.altcarexpo.com/

    BM
    I've been lurking...

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