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Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 104
Fresh: 92 | Rotten: 12

A searing indictment of big business and greed, Who Killed The Electric Car? is a well-tuned doc that simultaneously entertains and enrages.


Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 33 | Rotten: 2

A searing indictment of big business and greed, Who Killed The Electric Car? is a well-tuned doc that simultaneously entertains and enrages.



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 42,823

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Movie Info

Filmmaker Chris Payne explores the many factors that played into the ultimate failure of the electric car to catch on with consumers, even as gas prices began to skyrocket, in a thoughtful meditation on the increasingly important role that renewable energy plays in modern society. Introduced as a means of providing an alternative to increasing oil consumption and reducing pollution in 1996, the electric car was an all-but-forgotten memory only a decade later -- but why? Through interviews with


Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary

Chris Paine

Nov 14, 2006


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All Critics (111) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (92) | Rotten (12) | DVD (13)

Another few of these squandered opportunities for art-house muckraking and we'll need someone to ask who killed the left-wing documentary.

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Chris Paine's documentary about General Motors' development and withdrawal of the innovative, environment-friendly EV1 automobile is bound to reverberate with anyone who's fallen in love with a product only to see it irrevocably yanked from the market.

March 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Filmmaker Chris Paine's postmortem on the EV1s doesn't answer all our questions, but it is reasonably evenhanded and quite entertaining.

October 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's liable to get people hopping mad, whether or not they buy Paine's overarching conspiracy theory.

October 7, 2006 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

... an entertaining but sometimes disingenuous documentary ...

August 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An entertaining if slightly skewed documentary about the short life and early death of General Motors' EV1.

August 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film shows how politicians on both sides of the isle conspired with oil companies and car manufacturers to rob our ecology of one of its most promising assets.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source:

Transcends its own awful construction by being a documentary, further supporting the idea that docs needn't be well made to be worthwhile.

September 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinematical

Given the shortsighted shenanigans engaged in by these corporate-oriented politicians and greedy captains of industry, is it any wonder that we'd end up mired in the Middle East to ensure the flow of oil? Who killed the electric car? The usual suspects.

June 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Upstage Magazine
Upstage Magazine

It goes far beyond electric cars to illustrate how big business controls government actions and policies at all levels with damaging results.

March 30, 2007 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

This rich and absorbing documentary also functions as mystery and exposé.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

In the interest of understanding how your government and big business work (and work together against the consumer's interest), you owe it to yourself to see this film.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

On the other hand, the activists are a little twee to deliver any serious drama

November 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Piercingly demonstrates how technological advancement occurs only when it aligns with monied interests, and argues persuasively for the idea that we all deserve better.

September 17, 2006 Full Review Source: Now Playing Magazine

Where too many politically minded films seem to exist only to confirm what the audience already believes, it's a thrill to sit in a theater and learn something new and so, so infuriating.

September 14, 2006 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Hits home on all cylinders.

September 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Chris Paine has painted a convincing picture of corporate greed -- working hand in hand with the government.

September 6, 2006 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

This doc looks at the possible suspects in the death of the promising electric vehicle: consumers, oil companies, car manufacturers, gov. and even the Hydrogen Fuel Cell car.

August 31, 2006 Full Review Source: Hollywood Report Card
Hollywood Report Card

The film provides a journalistic service, telling a story that most people in the United States have not heard. It's a fascinating tale.

August 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but a car is always more than transportation.

August 18, 2006 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

In this context, the presence of President Bush -- the Professor Moriarty of the new wave of liberal docs -- is as depressingly predictable as a baby left in a car in August.

August 11, 2006
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Audience Reviews for Who Killed the Electric Car?

Movies to Feel Guilty To, Volume Seven. It's strange, as a child I DO remember electric cars around, but I never gave much thought to what happened to them, if anything. I didn't realize they had actually been actively killed by various forces, lobbies and interests. Grrr. This is a very good, well-researched, engaging and informative documentary that makes you care about eco-infrastructure and want to get involved. I am very glad I saw this, and I ended up seeing it twice.
October 8, 2011

Super Reviewer

I thought it was pretty interesting and well put together.
September 2, 2009

Super Reviewer

Who Killed the Electric Car starts off interesting but after about the first 20 minutes just generally keeps retreading the same 3 or 4 points. Martin Sheen's narration doesn't quite fit either--it's like he had a mouthful of Werther's Originals in his mouth while he recorded it. This documentary is definitely informative when it doesn't dwell on annoying activists who love the sound of their own voices. The United States as a country is poisoned by the greed of the oil and automotive industry, we get it. It sucks but stalking a car you used to drive in a losing battle is just creepy and weird. The Phyllis Diller bit at the beginning was perplexing to me but Mel Gibson's attempt to look like Moses with the Sweetest Beard Ever (it looked like he had a big white tongue!) hypnotized me. But probably what surprised me the most was that none of the people in this documentary referred to the electric car as Jesus. I mean, they may as well have. This movie made me want to buy a Hummer at the end. It annoyed me that much...
June 26, 2008

Super Reviewer

A really great documentary showing how money controls everything and how America is filled with zombies that buy what big business tells us to buy.
November 18, 2007

Super Reviewer

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  • ¿Quién mató al coche eléctrico? (ES)
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