A Discussion of Chris Paine’s Who Killed the Electric Car?

by Miles Flisher

Who Killed the Electric Car is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. It proves without question the deliberate cover up of the electric car for profit of the oil industries. There is so much clear evidence to indicate that increasing use of electric cars could have been an effective means of lowering carbon emissions, and that many people miss driving their electric cars.

As the film progressed, it became increasingly disturbing. It highlighted the extent of control the oil and motor industries have in our country. The person with whom I was watching the movie was perturbed by the crushing of the electric cars because she remembered when the cars that were shown being crushed were still on the market. Although I did not have the same memories, I felt the same way when I heard how much some of the people who worked on the cars cared about the effect they could have on greenhouse gas emissions, knowing their hopes were crushed. The part of this movie with which we were already familiar was the part about the potential for use of hydrogen in cars. However, we were unaware of the favoring of the motor industries during the debate around the electric versus hydrogen car.

Humor was used in an interesting way at the beginning of this film. The movie opened with an image of a funeral with bagpipes and a processional, but the funeral was actually for the electric car. I found this funny at first, but when the film returned to the footage of the funeral later in the movie, I actually felt for the people who cared about the car and its potential. When I asked my partner if she thought the film described the American dream, she laughed and said “no.” However, she went on to say that the premise of the American dream is that with hard work and by doing the right thing with innovation, you will succeed, and that, although the electric car did all of this, it was struck down by the oil and motor industries for their own survival. I added that the film used the imagery of advertisements in an ideal America for showing the irony of the situation. This led us into a discussion of media coverage of electric cars. My partner felt that the media has hidden the real story of the electric car because it is now being run by corporations, which often bend truth to their advantage.

The answer to this film’s challenge is to build awareness around what happened to the electric car, so that we can prevent such a thing from happening again. I would also like to get a car that is either electric, a hybrid, or an even better alternative. My partner thinks that the answer to the problem is to spread the truth, give to organizations who help with getting the truth out, and fight the influence of corporations. To do her part, she writes to her representatives about her concerns. We both agreed that people will have to work together in order for any solution to be effective. My partner mentioned that social media could be a useful tool for gathering support. She already tries to recruit others for environmental and philanthropic causes by posting on social media. Overall, we both enjoyed this movie and, at the same time, felt concerned and compelled to advocate for a transition to cleaner transportation.

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