Whodunnit, a murder mystery (who killed EV1?)

I was watching Planet Green tonight, and they were doing a 2 hour special on who killed the electric vehicle (EV1), so I thought I’d pose the question here as a debate to educate myself on this.

From memory, the Suspects are:

GM: From the program, GM’s motives seem to have been that they didn’t think they could profit from the car because they couldn’t sell spare parts…or something like that. Essentially, GM killed it because they were stupid and greedy, despite the fact that it would have sold like hot cakes (according to the proponents of the GM killed it scenario).

The American Consumer: Here, the culprit was the American buyer…basically, American’s wanted (or THOUGHT they wanted) a car that could go more than 60 miles on a charge, and were distracted by the Oh Shinny!! effect from the car companies (who were partly to blame here as well), who wanted to sell them SUV’s.

Big Oil: This one is obvious…Big Oil™ was scared that the EV1 would take off and they would all go out of business (according to the show they are still scared and are the main obstructionist to this day), so, to prevent this, they bought up all the rights and patents (and various companies making the batteries and such) to prevent this from happening. In conjunction with…

The Government: The government colluded with Big Oil to emphasize and entice people into buying SUV’s instead of electric vehicles by using tax incentives (according to the show, one would get a $4k tax break for an EV, while it was possible to get a $100k tax break for a high end SUV…this last part was hard for me to swallow btw). Interestingly, though it’s my understanding that the EV1 was put out in the 90’s, most of the footage during the segment of the show about the Government suspect was…Bush II, Cheney, Condi, etc (with a few slaps at Regan and Clinton, and some Attaboys for Carter).

I’ll add a 5th choice, which was mentioned by one of the talking heads (though VERY briefly)…Death by Natural Causes.
According to most of the talking heads on the show, the EV1 was a vehicle way ahead of it’s time, and would have been a great commercial success if it hadn’t been killed. I’m unsure how to reconcile this with the fact that, even today, all electric vehicles don’t seem to be that common, despite the fact that foreign car manufacturers could, at least in theory, be producing and selling them (if not in America than at home). The technology, while (at least afaik) more advanced, still just doesn’t seem ready for prime time.

So…whodunnit? Who killed the EV1, and why? And has this murder set us back decades from where we could have been in the 1990’s? Or, is this a case of a death by natural causes, and just a Conspiracy Theory for the eco-minded on a channel like PLGN?


There doesn’t have to be a conspiracy, just insufficient interest. The EV1 was a cute idea, but the limited range, high cost and long recharge time means a fairly small pool of early adopters. Plus gasoline was relatively cheap at the time.

We just had a thread about this a month ago:

Sorry, missed that one. I’ll read through the previous thread, since it’s already been done just let this one die off, unless anyone has anything additional to add.