Who Killed the Electric Car?
by Tony Medley
Just because a film is made
by people I donít trust or respect doesnít mean that it doesnít tell the
truth sometimes. This is narrated by Martin Sheen and is full of
interviews with people who worked in the Clinton and Carter
Administrations. Say what you will about any President, there has never
been a more damaging Administration than Carterís, circa 1977-81. Then
thereís Ralph Nader. I donít want to go into Ralph Nader.
But the people they are
attacking include General Motors who will forever be near the head of
the list of corporations that should go down in infamy (even though I
drive their cars). GM is responsible for destroying the Los Angeles Red
Car system, which, for the first half of the 20th Century,
was the best electric mass rapid transit system in the world. GM bought
it up and ripped out all the tracks, getting Los Angeles to build
freeways instead and destroying the best city in the world, turning it
into a smog factory, choking itself to death on traffic.
Just as I think that GM
personifies corporate evil and malfeasance, I think that Martin Sheen
and Ralph Nader personify political bad faith. So this film didnít offer
me much to admire. I just donít trust the way the film was put together
because I have no faith at all in the integrity of many of the people
involved with the film.
This is a film about how GM
developed and built the VM-1, allegedly the best electric car ever
built. It had speed and range and it was a good looking car. But,
according to this film, GM conspired with crooked politicians and the
oil companies, and refused to publicize the car. The people who drove
it, many of whom are interviewed here, were in love with it. The film
tells the story of how GM refused to renew their leases, collected all
the cars, and secretly (well, not so secretly because the fans found out
about it) crushed them in the Arizona desert.
Naturally, all the democrats
are made to look good, like Clinton and Carter, and all the Republicans
are made to look bad, like Ronald Reagan and Bush II. Even-handed this
is not. But thatís what you get when you rely on ideologues to tell what
could have been a good story. These people are so biased that they canít
help but let their goofy political beliefs get in their way. It is
pretty astonishing that they can make Carter, the worst of Presidents,
look good and try to make Reagan, the best of Presidents, look bad. But,
as a famous leftwing anchor man was fond of saying, thatís the way it
Given my belief in the
corruptness of GM, I basically believe whatís in this movie. It is well
made, even if it is a polemic. Forget the questionable credibility of
the messengers, Itís a polemic that is probably mostly truthful.