"'Who Killed the Electric Car?' examines California's fling with mandating electric cars in the 1990s and its decision to drop the mandate in the face of strenuous opposition from the auto industry. [The film] contends carmakers, government officials and others worked together to keep a viable alternative to gas-powered vehicles off the road.
Like 'Roger and Me,' which illustrates the negative impact of GM's decision to downsize in Flint, Mich., 'Who Killed the Electric Car?' could create a public relations headache for GM. Many automakers have long dismissed electric vehicles as a dead end, but the documentary could resonate with moviegoers, who now spend $3 for every gallon of gasoline they use to drive to the theater.
The EV1 got the attention of the California Air Resources Board, which passed a rule in 1990 that said 10 percent of all vehicles sold by 2003 should emit no pollution. Other automakers, including Ford, Toyota, Honda and Nissan, came out with electric vehicles, but none reported strong customer demand, and the industry began to challenge the rule.
The movie contends that oil companies campaigned against electric vehicles, that politicians were swayed by a mirage of future hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and that automakers purposely tamped enthusiasm for the cars because they needed less service and fewer replacement parts."