Saturday, November 22, 2008

electric car. 2 years off? not.

GM says its "plug in" car will be "ready" in 2 years. GM, the automaker who produced a successful electric car in the 1990s, the same automaker who, according to Chris Paine, "killed" the electric car.

from a New York Times article by Micheline Maynard, we don't hear much about GM's earlier electric car (and its untimely "death"), except for this:

G.M. reportedly spent about $1 billion in the 1990s to develop the EV1, which it dropped after saying it could not make money on the cars. The EV1, which was available only in lease deals, sold for the equivalent of up to $44,000 but cost G.M. about $80,000 apiece to make [...]

... which might have us believe that GM simply pulled the plug (sigh) because of simple corporate economics. it wasn't making any money on the car; it was losing money on the car. but the documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car? explores the question in a tougher journalistic mood, so i'm promoting it, here (although it's doing fine on its own and enjoys a certain following).

i don't see much criticism of this tentativeness coming from automakers regarding the "availability" of technologies capable of generating an electric or otherwise non-combustible engine car. maybe director Chris Paine will get, (is currently?) after it. we do have the blog, Revenge of the Electric Car, which seems promising. what is not so encouraging is that in the context of talks for govenrmental "salvation" of the Big 3 automakers, what we hear about the combustible engine and oil dependency (foreign or otherwise) is so frequentrly tempered by a sort of grandfatherly "wisdom" that would have us believe that we simply cannot do what we have already done. what i mean to say is that, yes, it's all very complicated. but to portray a timeline for production of a "plug in" car as a long and difficult road (ugh. sorry) seems like a pretty clunky rhetorical trick, the kind of move that is reserved for election politicking. still, documentarian Paine is optimistic and supportive of GM's current moves, with only a tiny hint of (articulated) reservation.

so but until the new electric car movie is made/comes out, enjoy this clip from Chris Paine's 2006 documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car? ...

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