Who Really Killed the Electric Car?

Published 16 May 2017

The electric car has been a ray of hope in solving the world’s emission problems since a huge amount of carbon dioxide and air pollutants come from vehicles. The birth of the electric car has been involved in a lot of controversy since it was removed from the streets faster than it was built. General Motors initially held a strong interest in developing these cars they called the EV1 but all of a sudden decide that they want to end the project. The car company may have been the one who built the new electric car but it is also the one who killed it.

Even if General Motors will never confirm it, the decision to scrap all the manufactured EV1’s is a result of business interests. GM knows that pursuing the electric car will have negative impacts on the traditional car industry. If ever the electric car becomes an economical and efficient mode of transportation, it will replace the conventional cars on the road leading to the fall of the fossil fuel car. It will “cannibalize sales of conventional cars”. The absence of an engine in an electric car means less replacement parts and maintenance costs for drivers. This will in turn affect profits coming from the sale of car parts. For instance, the EV1 has a regenerative braking system which protects it from wear and tear; this will cause the industry to lose money from the sale of brake parts which is a very profitable industry in itself (Sony). Although we cannot be certain, we can also speculate that mutual understandings with oil companies may have also affected the 180-degree turn made by GM.

Apparently, it is clear that GM took the EV1 vehicles from the roads to the crushing facilities because of hidden agendas (Edmunds). Even as the batteries may have some flaws, GM would not destroy all these vehicles which cost them billions since it would be a complete waste of good funds. More so, denying the petition of some drivers to buy the cars for $1.9 million is questionable since if GM had no hidden agenda in getting the EV1 off the roads, it would sell these electric cars for whatever profit it could make instead of incurring great losses from destroying it (Germain). From this, we can ascertain that GM hopes to earn more with the EV1 off the road. The car company took things into their own hands handing out the corporate decision to destroy the cars after identifying the negative financial implications the electric cars will have on the company’s future.

The batteries used in the EV1 may be flawed in some ways but this is not a reason to completely abandon the project since it is still in its early stages. The batteries were not poorly performing as opposed to what the car company claims. The initial lead-acid battery could cover 60 to 80 miles of distance with one charge. Later on, the EV1 was able to cover 100 to 120 miles with the NiMH battery (Sony). The lack of demand for the EV1 is another issue why the production of the electric car was put to a halt (Germain). Further research into developing better batteries that cover greater distance and greater speeds would solve a lot of issues. Government and private efforts to forward research on such areas would have the electric car a more viable alternative than it already is.

Years later, GM came up with a type of fuel processor that extracts hydrogen from gasoline to use as fuel. It would appear that GM was not vent on eliminating oil in the automobile industry. Rather, it came up with something that would still use oil for fuel (Autoparts Report).

GM also been argued that the electric car will not reduce emission levels since it is only diverting the emissions away from the vehicle and into the power plants since the power plants still make use of fossil fuels much of which is coal which produces more emissions compared to oil (Germain). While this is true, the world needs to address the need to switch to renewable energy sources and eliminate dependence on fossil fuel. In this way, emissions will be totally eliminated and not just be diverted into another smokestack. In fact, one of the first automobiles did not run on fossil fuels. It ran on electricity. Also, not all locations get electricity from fossil fuels.
It is not the battery that killed the electric car. Neither is it the consumers, or the oil companies. It is not the government. It is not the resource board. It is not the hydrogen fuel cell. It is its very own creators that destroyed it.

Works Cited

  • Autoparts Report. “GM Demonstrates Onboard Fuel Processor That Extracts Hydrogen From Gasoline”. 15 August 2001. BNET.
  • Edmunds. “Who Killed the Electric Car? We’re Not Sure Anyone Did”. 2008.
  • Germain, David. “‘Who Killed the Electric Car?” is a timely doc”. MSNBC.
  • Sony. “Who Killed the Electric Car”.
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