February 5, 2011
Today is free museum day here in Sacramento, which obviously means you can get in to any of the museums for free. Awesome! Now I’m hardly an art museum nut, unless it’s a really cool exhibit, and you can only go to the Railroad Museum so many times, so this is when my daughter and I typically hit up the Auto Museum. Well today as we were rounding the bend for the last row of cars in the exhibit, they had a section of eco-friendly cars – hybrids, battery-powered, hydrogen cells, and electric. One electric car in particular caught my eye, because I knew I had seen it somewhere before.
But where? Ohhhhhh, that’s right. This is the car that was featured in the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? (The answer is GM, by the way). This documentary was made in 2006, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you totally should. It is really good. And quite infuriating. It’s pretty much about how GM created a 100% electric car – the EV1, made a small batch of them (in LA only, I think), and the owners loved them.
But the oil companies, politicians, other auto makers, and auto body shops didn’t. Oil companies didn’t like the idea, because it would take away from their profits, since fewer people would need to buy gas. This is where government officials got involved, because of course that meant it was messing with Middle East politics. And auto companies and their repair shops didn’t like it because of the cost of developing new vehicles, combined with the loss of repair revenue, (because they require hardly any maintenance and no tune-ups, since they only contained a battery).
So never mind that the California Air Resources Board had passed the Zero-Emissions Vehicle mandate in 1990, (which required the seven major auto companies in the U.S. offer electric vehicles, in order to continue sales of their gasoline powered vehicles in California), and forget that they were an excellent, viable response to pollution and global warming, politics won out. In the end, the cars were taken back from the owners, since they were only available for lease, and destroyed. They literally crushed them all, because the owners were in such an outrage, and were offering to buy them outright, to have them back. So they smashed them. Uhhh, waste much, GM?
It’s such a good documentary. Even if you have no desire to own an electric car, or any type of eco-car for that matter, you should still check it out. It’s still shocking, and eye-opening, to see how far the government will go to protect what they value. I walked away from this movie saying “Is nothing sacred?”.