Who Killed the Electric Car?

This posting is a logical sequel to our LawPundit posting on Unnecessary Patent Encumbrance of Large Automotive NiMH Batteries : What is Required are Draconian Penalties for the Greedy Patent Holders.

As written at the Wikipedia:

Who Killed the Electric Car? is a 2006 documentary film that explores the creation, limited commercialization, and subsequent destruction of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1 of the 1990s. The film explores the roles of automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, the US government, the Californian government, batteries, hydrogen vehicles, and consumers in limiting the development and adoption of this technology.

It was released on DVD to the home video market on November 14, 2006 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment….

The movie deals with the history of the electric car, its development and commercialization, mostly focusing on the General Motors EV1, which was made available for lease in Southern California, after the California Air Resources Board passed the ZEV mandate in 1990, as well as the implications of the events depicted for air pollution, environmentalism, Middle East politics, and global warming.

The film details the California Air Resources Board‘s reversal of the mandate after suits from automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, and the George W. Bush administration. It points out that Bush’s chief influences, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card, are all former executives and board members of oil and auto companies. They were eliminated from the GM Line in 1999.

A large part of the film accounts for GM’s efforts to demonstrate to California that there was no demand for their product, and then to take back every EV1 and dispose of them. A few were disabled and given to museums and universities, but almost all were found to have been crushed; GM never responded to the EV drivers’ offer to pay the residual lease value ($1.8 million was offered for the remaining 78 cars in Burbank before they were crushed). Several activists are shown being arrested in the protest that attempted to block the GM car carriers taking the remaining EV1s off to be crushed.

The film explores some of the reasons that the auto and oil industries worked to kill off the electric car. Wally Rippel is shown explaining that the oil companies were afraid of losing out on trillions in potential profit from their transportation fuel monopoly over the coming decades, while the auto companies were afraid of losses over the next six months of EV production. Others explained the killing differently. GM spokesman Dave Barthmuss argued it was lack of consumer interest due to the maximum range of 80–100 miles per charge, and the relatively high price.

The film also showed the failed attempts by electric car enthusiasts trying to combat the cancellation of EV1 and the surviving vehicles. Towards the end of the film, a deactivated EV1 car #99 was found in the garage of Petersen Automotive Museum, with its former owner invited for a visit.

The film also explores the future of automobile technologies including a deeply critical look at hydrogen vehicles and an upbeat discussion of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technologies, with examples such as Tesla Roadster. The end of the film mentioned the upcoming sequel titled Revenge of the Electric Car.”

Read the rest of the Wikipedia article here.

Unnecessary Patent Encumbrance of Large Automotive NiMH Batteries : What is Required are Draconian Penalties for the Greedy Patent Holders

One of the areas of environmental protection and improved energy development which are being unnecessarily held back by overly broad patent protection is the development and sale of large automotive NiMH Batteries.

We have been researching the puzzling snail’s pace of production of hybrid and electrical vehicles and ran across the Wikipedia article Patent encumbrance of large automotive NiMH batteries.

In days such as ours when major carmakers such as General Motors and Chrysler have filed bankruptcy and when the spectre of recession and depression are on our doorstep because of the stupidity and greed of monopolistic patent holders and private enterprise companies, the entire legal system – and by this we mean legislators in Congress and in State and local governments, officials in government agencies, and judges and lawyers in the judicial system, must start to become aware of the totally unnecessary harm that overly broad patents are doing to the economy by thwarting absolutely necessary developments in the energy sector.

The example of large automative NiMH batteries is a case in point where draconian examples should be made.

If it is true, as stated in that Wikipedia article, that companies to whom patent monopolies have been granted by foolish patent laws are refusing to sell large automative NiMH batteries to smaller companies and developers – thus greatly harming the progress of energy innovation in the electrical sector, then the owners and directors of such companies and the patent owners of the technology involved should all be put in jail for causing substantial and avoidable harm to the public weal. I would put a government task force on this project with the goal of revoking whatever patents in this area can be revoked and a special prosecutor should be put on the tails of those responsible for this debacle.