Historical Museum to screen "Who Killed the Electric Car?"
Movie explores life and death of the GM EV1

For immediate release November 13, 2006


Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) –The State Historical Museum will screen “Who Killed the Electric Car?” November 25-26, 2006 as the second offering in its new “Movies at the Museum” film series.

“Who Killed the Electric Car?” will be shown November 25th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and November 26th at 2 p.m. at the State Historical Museum, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines’ Historic East Village. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at www.iowatix.com or at the door. Moviegoers who ride a bicycle to the museum and show a bike helmet at the door will receive a $1 discount. Snacks will be available for purchase. Call 515-281-5111 or visit www.iowahistory.org for more information.

“Who Killed the Electric Car?” chronicles the life and mysterious death of the GM EV1, which was among the fastest, most efficient production cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American technology to the forefront of the automotive industry. The lucky few who drove it never wanted to give it up. So why did General Motors crush its fleet of EV1 electric vehicles in the Arizona desert? The movie examines the EV1’s cultural and economic ripple effects and how they reverberated through the halls of government and big business.

The Historical Museum presents “Who Killed the Electric Car?” in conjunction with a new exhibit, “Running on Empty,” which explores automobiles designed to be highly fuel efficient or powered by alternative energy.

The exhibit showcases a 2006 Toyota Prius Hybrid, a 1980 prototype called “The Brooklands” developed by Michael Bogardus of Des Moines and a 1916 Milburn electric automobile owned by former Iowa Governor George W. and Arletta Clark. The Toyota Prius and funding for the exhibit are provided by Toyota of Des Moines. The State Historical Museum is open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and Noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public.

“Movies at the Museum” kicked off in October with a sellout of “Villisca: Living with a Mystery,” an award-winning documentary that tells the epic true story of Iowa’s worst mass homicide, the Villisca Axe Murders. Additional films in the series will be announced at a later date.

The State Historical Society of Iowa is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Please visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.

SYNOPSIS of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” from ©Sony Pictures Classics:

The year is 1990. California is in a pollution crisis. Smog threatens public health. Desperate for a solution, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) targets the source of its problem: auto exhaust. Inspired by a recent announcement from General Motors about an electric vehicle prototype, the Zero Emissions Mandate (ZEV) is born. It required 2 percent of new vehicles sold in California to be emission-free by 1998, 10 percent by 2003. It is the most radical smog-fighting mandate since the catalytic converter.

With a jump on the competition thanks to its speed-record-breaking electric concept car, GM launches its EV1 electric vehicle in 1996. It was a revolutionary modern car, requiring no gas, no oil changes, no mufflers, and rare brake maintenance (a billion-dollar industry unto itself). A typical maintenance checkup for the EV1 consisted of replenishing the windshield washer fluid and a tire rotation. But the fanfare surrounding the EV1’s launch disappeared and the cars followed. Was it lack of consumer demand as carmakers claimed, or were other persuasive forces at work?

Fast forward to 6 years later... The fleet is gone. EV charging stations dot the California landscape like tombstones, collecting dust and spider webs. How could this happen? Did anyone bother to examine the evidence? Yes, in fact, someone did. And it was murder.

The electric car threatened the status quo. The truth behind its demise resembles the climactic outcome of “Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express:” multiple suspects, each taking their turn with the knife. “Who Killed the Electric Car?” interviews and investigates automakers, legislators, engineers, consumers and car enthusiasts from Los Angeles to Detroit, to work through motives and alibis, and to piece the complex puzzle together.

“Who Killed the Electric Car?” is not just about the EV1. It’s about how this allegory for failure – reflected in today’s oil prices and air quality – can also be a shining symbol of society’s potential to better itself and the world around it. While there’s plenty of outrage for lost time, there’s also time for renewal as technology is reborn in “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

--© Sony Pictures Classics


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