With rising oil prices and expanding greenhouse gases, who wouldn't want an eco-friendly, non-polluting car? Apparently just about everybody who has the power to put such a vehicle on the market and keep it there. In the early 1990's, the state of California forced car manufacturers to develop nonpolluting vehicles, setting off a decade of electric-car mania among a certain niche of consumers…and electric-car abhorrence among the automobile and oil companies. Who Killed the Electric Car? takes a lively look at all those involved with these now defunct vehicles. The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival but has since been reedited, follows the six-year journey of a prototype electric vehicle. Our filmmakers are sleuths in an Agatha Christie mystery, shaking down all the usual suspects in order to determine exactly what went wrong along the way. Was it the car itself? The automobile company in question cited a lack of consumer interest, thereby forcing the California state government to abandon its stringent emissions rules. But when the car was pulled off the assembly line and out of showrooms in the early part of this decade, was it really the consumers who were to blame? Who Killed the Electric Car? is a potent examination of what happens in the corridors of power and what those who hold the purse strings will do in the interest of maintaining the status quo. All we can hope for at this point is that someday the electric car will make a comeback. With rising oil prices and expanding greenhouse gases, who wouldn't want an eco-friendly, non-polluting car? Apparently just about everybody who has the power to put such a vehicle on the market and keep it there.
Before becoming a full-time filmmaker, Chris Paine was an Internet business pioneer. His web design and e-commerce company Internet Outfitters eventualy became Appnet. Paine assisted writer/producer Michael Tolkin on the feature films The Player (1992) and The New Age (1994). Paine also produced a number of short subjects, including Mailman, which premiered at the 1995 Sundance Festival. His early directorial efforts included segments for the MTV/Initial television series BUZZ, as well as the personal documentary Return to the Philippines. Paine was an executive producer on Faster (2003), which looked inside the world of MotoGP, the world's fastest motorcycle racing series. He also executive-produced Mark Neale's William Gibson: No Maps for These Territories, which was named Best Documentary by New Times Los Angeles in 2001. Who Killed the Electric Car? is Paine's first feature documentary as a director.