Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
POV's Borders | Environment HomeAirWaterEarthTalk For Educators
Resources
Sitemap
The Death of the Electric Car
Part 1
Part 2
Funeral procession with bagpiper, person riding segway, hearse and EV1s


It Made History, Then Became History (Continued)
 
POV's Borders: Many "owners" have been sending checks to GM to try to keep their cars, why did they only lease the cars in the first place?
 
Chris: We were offered timed leases and you had to give them back on the day they expired otherwise you would be guilty of grand theft auto or insurance fraud or something. They made it very scary. And so as the due dates come we've had to take the cars back to Saturn and have General Motors pick them up there. My car actually was once again recalled a few months ago before my lease was up after a brake light check. I haven't seen it since but I made them get me a replacement. But they don't really care because they know you don't have any legal right to the car. [GM] leased the cars because they wanted total control.

EV1 engineer
EV1 engineer Wally Rippel addresses the funeral crowd.
 
Actor Ed Begley
Actor and conservationist Ed Begley, Jr.
 
EV1 saleswoman Chelsea Sexton (left) and actress Alexandra Paul
EV1 saleswoman Chelsea Sexton (left) and actress Alexandra Paul
You organized a mock funeral for the EV1 electric car in Hollywood. [Watch Video] What is it you wanted people to know about these cars before they disappeared?
 
I want people to know that the technology is ready now, that they work terrifically, that the range issues about how far the car can go on one charge are completely solvable now and that to wait for hydrogen fuel cell cars that are inherently less efficient than battery powered cars is a waste of resources, time and money. This is a lot like when they took away the streetcars in the '30s. It was a great technology that was disappeared because it's much easier to sell gas cars and keep profit margins high.
 
What has GM said in its defense?
 
When we organized the funeral, they told the media there was no demand for the electric car, that it really didn't work out too well, but thank goodness for hybrids. And coming up next — fuel cell cars! Now we're onto hybrids, which are terrifically better than gas cars on the road and very exciting. I think for the next 10 years hybrids will take over 80 percent of the market.
 
See what GM had to say to driver questions about the EV1.
 
Now that "EV Rider" has gone, what will you drive next?
 
I will probably get a hybrid. We're going to run out of gasoline or gas will have to be saved for airplane travel and defense, and the oil companies and automakers don't want to stop making cars that run on gas, so hybrids are what we're going to have for a while. I think electric drivers are a little bit sad about that because it's short-changed the potential our cars were showing.
 
There are still a few of you left driving your EVs. Do you see any last-minute salvage? Not for this round of the electric car. I hope GM will decide to sell these cars after a year of having them in storage instead of crushing them, because there are a lot of people who would love to have them. I don't think they'll start developing them again until they have to — when fuel supplies start to drop.
 
Play Video | Go Back to Part One | Hybrids are Hot! Float to the top of the page on this cloud.

Pulling the Plug 4 guys in front of shrouded EV1 at the EV1 mock funeral

Watch and Listen

The Mock Funeral: Chris Paine and other EV1 enthusiasts decided to hold a mock funeral at the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Watch the video to see some of the funny and endearing eulogies from the EV1 faithful. (3:15 minutes)
Chris Paine

Where Do You Stand?
Chris Paine: "I think there is very little awareness in people about the cars they drive — myself included — until I started to drive an electric car. We have so many things to do in our lives; the last thing we're going to worry about is what our car is doing. Maybe we feel a little guilty about driving our SUV around town. But at the end of the day, we have to pick up our kids, go to the grocery store, and make our next car payments. The media has talked about personal responsibility being as important as corporate responsibility and I think it's true."
 
Got a story about the way you get around town? Share your story and see what other people have to say about electric vehicles and other alternatives to gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars in the forum.
 
Share Your Story, Read Others'

 

Environment Home  |  Air  |  Earth  |  Water  |  Border Talk  |  For Educators  |  Resources  |  Credits  |  Site Map
POV's Borders Home  |  About POV's Borders  |  Contact Us
POV Home  |  About POV  |  POV Pressroom  |  POV Projects  |  Newsletter  |  About American Documentary
            All photography by Betty Bastidas
Copyright © 1995-2004 American Documentary, Inc.