For an engineering audience, the downside of the film is that it takes an all's-well-that-ends-well approach, essentially glossing over the fact that the struggle for pure electric vehicles will likely be with us for a long time. It makes the assumption that the technical work is completed, and it fails to address the fact that EV batteries are still prohibitively expensive.
At the film's end, we see a "good news" montage of successes for GM, Tesla, Nissan, and Abbott (the EV converter). Tesla's stock soars, and its massive DOE loan comes through. GM rolls out the Volt. Nissan gets a $1.4 billion loan to build Leafs, and Abbott's business recovers from a devastating fire.
Danny DeVito joins the montage long enough to remind us that we've left the Dark Ages. Another actor, Adrian Grenier, tells us that he can't wait for the electric car era. "The innovations are here now," Grenier says, smiling brightly. "Bring them to me. I want to play." The viewer is left to wonder what Grenier might think of today's paltry electric car sales figures.
Still, Revenge is perceptive. It shows the pain of taking risks, and it honors those who have the courage to initiate change. It gives us a glimpse inside the minds of the EV faithful. And it reminds us that we're heading in an electric direction, ready or not. Yes, the movie gives a one-sided view of the auto industry, but it also provides real insight into why we're going in that "electric direction."
Have you seen Revenge of the Electric Car? Do you agree/disagree with this review? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
For a close-up look at GM's Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller.
I've never seen the movie, but you've certainly peaked my interest, Chuck. Disappointing, though, that there isn't more balance in presenting the real challenges the EV industry faces, faithful or no faithful. Perhaps the collaborators could have used a little help from Michael Moore.
Beth, did you have to mention Michael Moore? Argh!!
Actually we have been here before. At the dawn of the automobile age there were electric cars. Don't forget that back then we did not have suburbs and long distance journeys were taken by train. All autos were used for short distance travel, so electrics worked. The internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles used a type of fuel that frankly "smelled". Once something closer to the current formulation of gasoline became available the electrics died out. The reason was the same. Limited range and time to charge. Until that is solved, the drive train doesn't matter.
I think that there will be a solution. It might well be fuel cells. It might be a whole new battery technology (different chemistry). It may be a hybrid of ultra capacitors and battery. Whatever it is, we don't have it now.
I had seen "Who Killed the Electric Car" and I was instantly struck by thin the movie was on technical details. The movie maker simply made the assumption that the car worked perfectly with no technological or economic hurdles, and that GM simply killed the car because somebody in a black helicopter made a call from Hangar 51. It could have happened that way, but it seemed to me that an issue with safety or GM's reputation was discovered. I'm certain that I'm not alone in the desire for a practical, plug-in commuter vehicle, and I'd really enjoy seeing a documentary on the struggle involved in developing a product of that type.
I viewed the entire movie last evening and was captivated both by the movie itself, but most especially by the "Rose Colored Glasses" perspective without any of the realities other than promoters having to convince both the market that this is ready to go (without question) and the investors to believe this position too!
Some of the myriad of issues driving the interest in a practical electric vehicle, which has many useful and appropriate applications, are dominated by storage of the electrical energy to obtain the mileage desired or demanded in today's living environment, the toxic waste hazard that is created at the site of a vehicle accident, the hazards to emergency rescue personnel (firefighters, paramedics and others that may assist at the scene of an accident), the availability of raw materials to manufacture the batteries, the ability to produce the batteries or other source of electrical power at any semblance of competitive costs, et al.
While the immediate cost of petroleum (including vehicle fuels) is influencing the interest and demand for this power source, if the petroleum costs are not determined by "politics" then the development will be driven by a more true market of need and efficiency and not one that is artificially dominated by the misguided environmental concerns of some in government power today.
I was sad for the problems encountered by "Gadget", however, his is the very best example of "intentions with value" in that he builds vehicles for those that want the application for their personal transportation needs and not to be forced upon a mass market that "may not want" nor are ready to "accept" the current technology - mostly due to problems associated with recharging the storage device (battery or ???) and the acquisition costs versus utility and practicality!
BTW - Who is going to pay for the charging while at work, the employer or ??? I suggest one concern is that if employers are required to provide and pay for these costs (or even "incentivized" through tax offsets), it will result in less employees as this is an additional and direct employee cost.
The intentions are wonderful but with mandates to make it work, are unwelcome!
I agree with you, Tekochip, the first movie was very thin on technical detail. Ironically, though, I think it got better reviews because because it was so unabashedly one-sided. This film, while still light on technical detail, shows that EV development isn't easy, which isn't as popular a position.
Due to their lack of ability to go long distance, or "there great ability to only travel short distances" I am wondering if this technology won't be used by the portion of the public that doesn't need to drive long distances. It's kind of like pick-up trucks or SUVs. Most people that have them really don't need them. Will rising gas prices drive them to buy something different? Will gas prices as some point drive a change in the market place?
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