• Aug 31, 2010
Remember the documentary "Who killed the Electric Car?" Director Chris Paine created the film in 2005 and 2006 to bemoan the decision of some automakers to kill off their electric car programs. It's now five years later and Paine and company are back with a vengeance videotaping "Revenge of the Electric Car."

In the original film, General Motors was reviled for its decision to deep-six the innovative EV1 all-electric two-seat car. But thanks to the impending production of the Chevrolet Volt, GM is now considered one of the reasons that the EV is on the comeback trail. Paine and his crew were allowed access to The General's Detroit Hamtramck plant to witness – with cameras rolling – the assembly production of pre-production Volt number 100. And to think that five years ago Rick Wagner and his crew would have been more likely to lend a size 14 boot to Paine's rear end than allow him to film inside one of the company's most important plants. My how times have changed.

There is no solid timetable for the release of "Revenge of the Electric Car" right now, but the documentary will likely align very well with the release of the Volt and Nissan Leaf, which are followed by an electric Focus not long after.

[Source: Revenge of the Electric Car]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I still have yet to see a single Volt or Leaf. If this is coming out around the time those cars are released, will it be in theaters? Will people pay for a 1.5-2 hour ad?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I still fail to see how GM is considered one of the reasons that the EV is on the comeback trail. If anyone is going to be credited, it needs to be Tesla or Nissan, who are actually producing EVs, not GM who is producing a new hybrid architecture and calling it an EV.

      And before everyone jumps on me because you all bought into the ER-EV ploy, SAE defines an EV as a vehicle that is powered SOLELY by an electrochemical source (i.e. battery). If the Volt has a gas tank and generator on board from the factory, it does not fit this definition.
        • 4 Years Ago
        +1, the Volt is looking like some sort of CAFE ploy honestly. $41k is not a realistic price for it. The only option is to lease, and it stinks of EV1 debacle where you leased the car and at the end of the lease period they sent the poor thing to the crusher and sold their battery technology to oil companies.

        On top of that, it's an odd value proposition. According to some reports and calculations thus far, the range extender does not get very good fuel economy. It is also going to require special maintenance over what a standard gasoline engine requires, if you don't use the range extender often. ( fuel preservatives )

        A 150 mile EV for $41k makes a hell of a lot more sense. I can't give GM credit here because they are only going half the distance and still keeping the owner dependent on oil :/
      • 4 Years Ago
      The EV1 was an expensive experiment, and wasn't ready for prime time. The cars were a money loser for GM, even though they gained some valuable real-world knowledge from them. They were only really usable in the places where GM leased them, and they would have have been seriously range hobbled in a situation like a Michigan winter.

      The vast majority of Americans aren't exactly clamoring for an electric car, no matter what hippies like Chris Payne might think.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Perhaps he should wait until they actually sell some of these cars before proclaiming their revenge? I am including the Leaf in this also. I still have my doubts that most Americans are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to plug in our cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Stepping stones, people. Stop being so short sighted.

        If hybrids and electrics make up 10% of the market 10 years from now, we will be in good shape. But most of you are too impatient for that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @kirsche

        The people buying the plug ins will be the same ones who drive priuses and insights now. If anything the volts and IQ will kill the hybrid market. i doubt anyone who wants on the green train hasn't already gotten on board.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why does everyone think electric cars have to become mass market right away to be successful. Look at hybrids, they started going on sale 2000-2001. But they didn't really take off until maybe only a couple years ago.

        The same will probably be true for electric cars. The early adopting tech/green folks will try and get their hands on them right away. Then 5-10 years down the road the general public will become more interested in them. Electric cars won't be practical for the mainstream until 10+ years from now. Just like it took hybrids nearly 10 years to become affordable/practical for the mainstream.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hybrids account for less than 2% of the market after 10 years, If EVs follow a similiar trajectory there will be a lot of unhappy execs. My point was declaring EVs "revenge" seems premature to me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This will only bankrupt GM if they make the same mistakes they did with the EV1.

      Let's not forget it was dependence on big SUV's and trucks that bankrupted GM.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Tell yourself whatever you want. Sales of GM's SUV's and trucks are down nearly 50% from the 2007 highs."

        You are missing the point. Yes, GM tanked when SUV/Trucks sales went down becuase that was ALL that was profitable. We are not disputing this.

        More investment in unprofitable small cars would not have helped and may have quikened the bankruptcy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Tell yourself whatever you want. Sales of GM's SUV's and trucks are down nearly 50% from the 2007 highs.

        Furthermore, small cars that sold well when gas prices went up would have helped. Spending the time and money to make small cars profitable, like all the other automakers, would have been helpful. Making cars that people actually wanted to buy would've helped too. The Cobalt was never a competitor to the Civic or Corolla, at least in terms of sales and profitability. If Honda can make the Civic in Ohio and be profitable, what was GM's problem?

        Also, let's not forget 2008 when all truck sales tanked...god you people are ridiculous!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Beacuse cars that have zero profit, which includes nealry all small cars, would have saved GM? Wrong. More small cars would not have made a difference to GM's bankruptcy.

        That is just the hippie meme.
        • 4 Years Ago
        People need to remember that GM's biggest loss was in 2007 ($38 Billion), before the recession started. GM failed on many levels, from cost structure to sales margins to labor relations to product development to product portfolio to organizational rigidity.... It was not just one thing. You don't end up with almost $100 Billion more in debt than assets by only screwing up on just one of those things. GM ran out of credit and spent all its cash- then the government came in and wiped those debts away and liquidated investors. Some suppliers cut costs and fleets started to buy more of their cars (look at who Carlyle group owns). China continues to grow. GM might come out OK and I hope we get most of our tax dollars back, but let's not pretend that they didn't screw up big time to begin with.

        http://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=MTLQQ.PK+Income+Statement&annual

        http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bs?s=MTLQQ.PK
        • 4 Years Ago
        You said that big trucks/SUVs bankrupted GM. It is not true. Sales are down across all vehicle types compared to the pre-recession numbers.

        Toyota Prius sales tanked massively compared to the pre-recession numbers as well. With government hybrid subsidies/tax incentives ending in many countries, that number is predicted to go down even more.

        At the end, no matter how cool or how politically correct something is, it is all about the economy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        mapoftazifosho: Look at the numbers, GM was and has always been in the top spots of combine auto sales in the US for years...Even if they were selling POS cars they were still out selling the competition..Why do you think GM is profitable at it's current state?? theres no big drastic change in bigger sales numbers..It's the high cost cutting that it was able to achieve during bankruptcy which was able to restructure to be profitable...It was very hard to be profitable when overhead was more then twice of everyone else...If anything the big profit margins of SUV's is what kept the company viable for such a long time...or you can keep drinking the cool aid and think SUV bankrupted GM....

        "If Honda can make the Civic in Ohio and be profitable, what was GM's problem? " Think really really really hard why that was...Look over at UAW and what GM used to pay...

        http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nah, the far bigger factor is the meltdown of the financial industries and the recession. People are still buying a lot of SUVs and large vehicles across all brands. The #1 seller isn't the Honda Fit, it is still the F150.

        Even if GM had continued with the EV1, it wouldn't have saved the company. Electric cars are a nice toy to have, but it is hard to make money selling them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Could be great advertisement for GM or could end up as footage in "Who Killed the Electric Car - Part 2" ten years from now when the Volt tops the list of cars that bankrupted GM for the second time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Quite impressive that GM has managed to intergrate the assembly of the Volt inline with the current production Cadillac DTS and Buick Lurcerne. I actually thought that GM created a separate line at Hamramck due to the completely different powertrain and chassis layout. Similar to Magna in Europe which builds a Mercedes, Saab and whatever down the same line after each other, but those are all typical powertrain layouts, this car is completly different.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Quite impressive that GM has managed to intergrate the assembly of the Volt inline with the current production Cadillac DTS and Buick Lurcerne. I actually thought that GM created a separate line at Hamramck due to the completely different powertrain and chassis layout."

        I noticed the same thing. Impressive.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ultimately GM was the biggest loser for killing EV 1.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The hybrid market exists today partially because the Prius was introduced by Toyota. Problems the buyers of those cars experienced were probably brought to light far less because of the Toyota reputation of quality. However if the Prius had been introduced by GM, EVERY problem would have been blown out of proportion and the hybrid would have been considered another GM failed technology. Remember cylinder deactivation in the eighties? That would have been really unfortunate because I believe GM has had hybrids in continuous production for decades, I believe the latest model before the Volt is called the SD70M-2. LOL
        • 4 Years Ago
        While I agree that killing the ev1 was a huge mistake environmentally and commercially, could you image how well a GM Prius would've gone over had they been first to market?


        People and corporations have been known to make mistakes, and the volt is quite a repentance for those mistakes. Yeah, they screwed up big, but are now making up for it. Why not just let it go at that? Besides, a few of the people responsible for those mistakes have either been let go, or quit.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I' argue a GM Prius wouldn't have done them any good, it would've been ridiculed by the media because it's a GM product, regardless of its inherent qualities at the time. Toyota basically sugarcoated its rep with the Prius and people weren't scared of buying into the new tech. because of that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Aprime

        I beg to differ. Nowdays GM's building good cars and a lot of the stigma is over. Ford has one of the best reputations in the business at the moment, and at the beginning of the hybrid era, it had one of the worst. If you build an innovative product, price it right and market it with competence, people will buy.

        Ford and GM cars of that era were bashed bashed because of good reason. Compared to the competetion they were neither unique, or of superior quality. GM had a chance to either make a hummer or continue with the EV project. GM chose wrongly at that time. But like I said before, they're redeeming themselves.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Uh, who's Rick Wagner?
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