Who Killed the Electric Car?
It’s hard to imagine that in the early 1900s almost a third of the cars were electric.
I recently rewatched the documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” directed by Chris Paine and released back in 2006. As we see the global transition to electric cars we seem to forget that it’s not the first wave, but the third wave of the revolution. You know what they say: third time’s the charm!
The manufacturers and engineers of gas cars would drive electric between work and home. However, the first blow to the industry was with the Ford Model T through innovation in mass production and manufacturing capabilities. Soon, the electric car became 2.5x more expensive than a gas car.
This isn’t a single variable equation but you can pinpoint this event as the pivotal moment that led to the world we see today. Other factors included development of roads that increased range needs, dropping gas prices, and the elimination of the hand crank.
The documentary paints a far more recent story between 1997 and 2006, which emulates the cinematic experience of a murder story with evidence for the means, motive, and opportunity. Yes, I watch a lot of cop shows.
The film displays how oil and auto interests applied pressure to retract progressive policies by CARB (California Air Resources Board), cut marketing spend and advertised poorly, diminished and underplayed market demand, promised a hydrogen future over electric, and prioritized short term gains over long term prosperity.
On the contrary, it also shows the promise of practical large-scale electric car adoption and how we paved the path for overcoming the major hurdles nearly two decades ago. Some other forces at play included lobbying for car-friendly road networks to create less walkable cities, removal of transit systems, and misinformation and propaganda with complete disregard to lifecycle analysis.
After finishing the film, many would blame different stakeholders described above, and rightfully so. Some might blame capitalism itself and how misaligned incentives cannot contribute to long term actions in the interests of a shared common good.
I will let you draw your own conclusion. I believe capitalism, or at least the right form of capitalism, could be the solution. And yes, I do think we have to factor in social policies for the right accelerated rate of change, but I’m also an entrepreneur that believes in people and solutions… now I’m just going off-topic.
One thing is definitely clear: the electric car is back and we have learned from our mistakes. The market is maturing similarly to the solar industry and only growing faster. It’s no longer clean tech but just tech.
It’s not just targets but regulations and incentives. It’s not solely about CO2 but about HOV. It’s not focused only on emission but acceleration. It’s not just charging, it’s ultra fast charging. It’s not your rushed drive to fuel your tank (and rising blood pressure) en route to work, but a simple park and recharge as you sleep conveniently at home.
It’s not just electric, it’s an all around better experience — a computer on wheels with faster torque and smoother acceleration, frictionless functionality and lightning processing speed. A vehicle that requires little to no maintenance, inexpensive and seamless to operate, and that’s just the beginning… a battery-powered, highly intelligent machine with over-the-air updates unlocks the future of mobility. Unlimited innovation that traverses autonomy, connection, and speed through an exhilarating revolution.
Electric cars are now that superior technology.
While it’s uncomfortable to imagine a world filled with new norms, our lives only evolve at the rate of open mindedness and acceptance to new ideas.
Rather than naturally gravitate towards making unworthy comparisons of apples to oranges, we can seek to understand and welcome the convenience and advantages of modern technologies.
A wireless cellphone that requires an overnight charge has taken over the coin-operated public telephone booth. A portable laptop with limited battery life and a virtual storage in the cloud over a bulky PC glued to a cubicle in a remote location. Innovative technologies prove to be superior by the merits of its ability to improve our modern day lives, rather than the ability to mimic an outdated and unpleasant experience.
If you’re wondering what electric car to buy next, check out some of our favorites here!
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